For many farmers, cows are the whale of livestock and a must-add inclusion to their livestock list. Cows provide lots of economic benefits for farmers, and they aid the production of beef, milk and even hide. Unlike other ruminant animals like sheep and goats, cows are physically larger and require more space and infrastructure.
When it comes to upfront costs and maintenance, raising cows is a more extensive financial investment, and you must take caution before deciding to jump right at it. With a clear cut decision to add cows to your itinerary of livestock, here are things you need to know.
- Know where to process your meat when raising cows for beef.
Many homesteaders and farmers purchase a cow solely to raise for homegrown, fresh beef. While this is not a wrong step to take, meat production from cows takes expertise. Butchering cows is a complicated activity, and it requires special tools and skill set. It is, therefore, essential to know where you will process your beef.
When raising cows for beef, it is essential to note that grain-fed cows will be ready for consumption around 15-16 months, and grass-fed cows take around 28 -30 months before they are ready for consumption.
You must also ascertain if you want the cow’s meat for personal consumption or a commercial purpose. That is because you can decide to use a custom slaughter facility when it’s for personal consumption. Still, a state or federally inspected facility must be used depending on if you plan to sell in-state or across the border.
- Research the market if you plan to sell your beef.
Fresh meat is generally more profitable than dairy, and it is possible to make money selling homegrown beef. One can raise beef on a low scale and still breakeven or make some profit. Although there are regulations about safely processing meat to be sold, they still can be properly navigated.
Like in planting and growing crops, you will want to know the potential market where you can see your beef before deciding to put in all your time, money, and efforts. If you are closer to a bigger town where people pay higher for a grass-fed, locally grown beef and you can have access to their farmers market, then you can do pretty well just having a handful of cows.
- Your location will determine the best cow breed for you.
Climate is an essential factor that determines which cows will strive best on your homestead or farmland. Different cow breeds perform well in various areas. One always has to consider the climatic conditions and if they will be suitable for a specific species. If you plan to own a beef farm in Pennsylvania, you must identify which breed will do well in that given location.
- Know a large animal veterinarian that can care for your cow when it is sick.
Animal health is critical and so, therefore, when you are purchasing your cow, be sure to also ask around for a veterinarian. Like other regular animals, cows also need vaccines annually. You can ask the cow’s seller to recommend who their veterinarian is, but there are different ways you can find one, like searching online.
- Cows need mineral supplements to stay healthy.
Many cow owners do forget to supplement the minerals that their animal needs. The supplement required depends on what the cows are fed and where you are located. Different feed stores have bags of minerals depending on where you’re located.
Quality forage will also provide cows with the necessary nutrients that they require. It is a good idea to have high-quality forage at all times if you are solely doing grass-fed while also having a legume with your regular grass.
- Housing and Fencing are essential for cows.
While cows need a large span of arable land to grow in, you also need to keep them on your property, bringing about the need for a fence. While fencing is vital to keep the cows in place, you need firm and permanent fencing around the pasture as cows are big animals and can easily knock over an ill-constructed fence. Housing and other forms of shelter are also needed to shield the cows from the elements occasionally.
- Access to freshwater.
Many cow farms in Pennsylvania have them drink from ponds or stream, but that’s not reasonably good enough. Even though cows are grazing animals, they also need a steady supply of freshwater.
It is recommended that homesteaders and farmers hoping to raise cattle should learn more about raising cattle. They also need to participate in some beef quality assurance training. Beginners need to know all the basics of cattle farming and record keeping. It’s an excellent opportunity to go over what cattle need and what to expect when raising cattle.