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Have you ever wanted to raise your own beef? It can be a rewarding experience. But before you dive into the world of cattle raising, it's important to know the basics of what's required and which breed of cattle is best for your needs. There are two distinctly different breed groupings of cattle—dairy (jersey, Holstein) and beef (angus, Herford)—so it’s important to understand the differences between them before making any decisions. In this blog, we will discuss why a beef cow is the best choice if you are wanting strictly beef and not milk, as well as what kind of resources you will need to successfully raise beef cattle on your homestead.
Why Choose a Beef Cow?
When selecting a breed of cattle for beef production, there are two main categories to consider - dairy and beef. While some dairy breeds can be used for beef production, if your goal is strictly to produce beef, you'll want to opt for a purebred beef breed. A family milk cow is called the Queen for a reason, and should be treated as such. Beef breeds will typically have larger frames than their dairy counterparts and can reach market weight faster with less feed. Furthermore, they can thrive in nearly any climate and environment, meaning that they can be raised in both cold and hot climates alike with minimal hassle.
Feed and Water
The next step is deciding how you'd like to finish the animal - either through grass or grain finishing. If grass finishing is your route of choice, you'll need direct access to plenty of pastureland (1 to 10 acres per steer depending on climate) or high quality hay (such as alfalfa). Grain finishing requires grain (typically corn), hay (for gut health). More on specific feeding strategies later. Regardless of which method you choose, keep in mind that while steers are usually used for beef production, heifers may also be suitable provided they don't reach maturity and become bred cows.
A clean water source will be needed as well. Typically, this is a stock tank. The tank needs to be big enough to hold 25-30 gallons of water per head per day, at the end of the finishing phase. It can also be 3 feet tall even for calves.
Raising beef cattle on your homestead can be an incredibly rewarding experience—not only does it provide delicious meat for your family, but it also gives you an opportunity to learn more about animal husbandry while connecting with nature at the same time. If this sounds like something that interests you, then make sure to research all the necessary requirements first before taking the plunge! With the right resources on hand and some dedication, there’s no reason why raising beef cattle couldn’t succeed on your homestead!
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