If the thought of not having more room in your farm to raise cattle bothers you, then you are reading the right post. Indeed, you can raise cattle on your small farmland; either raising a cow for beef or milk, it can be done.
Now, before you get excited about this great news, I need to ask you this question: “Why do you want to raise cattle?”
The answer you give to this question will help you with planning. Cattle farming happen to be a very rewarding project and can be challenging at the same time without adequate planning. Many people raise cows for different purposes, so highlighting your purpose will make things easy e.g. feeding, and other factors.
You need to know that raising milk or beef cows vary in terms of methodology. The feeding program and other essentials of raising both cows are different. Beef cows are cows raised to live with minimal management, and they (beef cows) can raise calves. On the other hand, dairy cows are raised to produce milk but not calves.
Cattle are usually raised as livestock either for meat (beef or veal) or for milk, and for hides for making leather. People also raise cattle as riding animals and draft animals (oxen or bullocks that pull carts, ploughs and other implements for farming or other uses).
Dung from cattle comes handy as fuel and manure. However, some race in the world e.g. Indians keep cattle as a significant religious animal.
All that goes into raising cattle is highlighted by this post together with what to know about raising cattle. After that, the post explained and reviewed the best/important equipment that can help you with cow farming. Do read further to know more.
What to Consider Before Raising Cattle on A Small Acreage
As earlier mentioned, raising cattle require some important factors. These factors will determine if you succeed at the project or not. The following should be considered by anyone who plans to raise cattle on his small farm.
Space, one of the important elements when raising cattle comes first. Without space, the idea of raising cattle would not arise in the first place. When we talk about space we don’t mean a massive expanse of land. Such land space will be a good idea when you are ranching.
For a homestead cattle farm, you can either raise your cow in a feedlot situation or grazing them on pasture.
For feedlots, the homesteader provides all the roughages and feed the cows in a small enclosed area. On the other hand, if you are considering grazing, then about 2 acres of space would be ideal per cow.
Since the activities of cattle can be overwhelming on the land, you can have the area fenced and divided into two. That way you can move the cattle from one side to the other to allow the land to recover.
Cows are big and heavy animals, too many of them on a farm can affect the land. For best result, we recommend that you start with few cows. That way, control and management become easy.
Cows can eat a lot and for that reason, you must carefully plan for their nutrition. Make provision for them by getting a good supply of hay in bales to serve when grasses become few. However, if you have true pasture on your farm then you are good to go. Also, be careful enough to inspect the grasses on the farm to be sure of what the cows are eating.
If your land has alfalfa grass (protein-rich plants) ensure you do not allow them to overeat them, to avoid bloating. Draw up a feeding schedule to ensure the animals get all dietary supplements and nutrients. Water should be provided in large quantity because a regular cow can gulp down an average of twelve to twenty gallons of water per day. Ensure a continuous supply of water to the farm to keep the cow hydrated.
You cannot raise cattle without having them contained, though they are not escape-artists like pigs and goats, they can roam. If you do not have a good fence system, your animals might roam around which can be disastrous. The fencing must be adequate because cows are notorious fence pushers during grazing.
Maintain a good fence with reinforced strands of electric wires. Ensure you regularly check the fence and mend any damaged part. You will not have to keep mending fences if you electrify your fences.
Also, electrified fences do not only keep your cattle in, but they also prevent stray animals which carry diseases from infiltrating your farm.
Furthermore, electrified fences keep your cattle safe from attacks from carnivorous animals like fox, wolves, etc. 
Anytime you visit a factory you will see the sign – “Safety first” prominently placed at strategic points. The same goes to you homesteader planning to raise cows. Ensure you consider your safety and that of your animals at all times. Have everything planned out – cows’ enormous sizes must be respected.
Be careful around the animals during feeding time, watch their every move all the time. They can react quickly and inflict you with serious injury if you did not take precaution.
Beside the grazing area, you must provide shelter for your cattle to rest or hide from bad weather. The shelter will be a great help to the animals because cows use energy to adjust to the weather instead of gaining weight. Keep them comfortable by erecting a nice shelter for them.
Plan what you would do with the manure that comes from the cattle while considering raising cows. Cattle consume large quantities of feed and in turn excrete so much dung. Do you know that cow dungs smell a lot! The odor can be a challenge when you have neighbors around who would not like you to compost them on site.
Cow manure happens to be fantastic manure so composting it would not be a bad idea. Ensure you check the manure regulation in your area before considering what to do with the manure. Also, if you choose to compost the manure, ensure you do not allow the animals to grave close to grasses with manure.
Parasites pose a great danger to cattle, hence put a tight parasite control in place. While cattle graze, they excrete dungs too. The dungs will have parasites living in them and can get into the nearby pasture. If the animals eat the pasture, they can get inflicted with the parasite. For you control the parasite easily, you need to plan to rotate the animals from one grazing area to the other.
When the animals are moved from one grazing area, the area rest and many of the parasites in the dung and pastures die off before the cows are moved back there to graze. Maintain a parasite control timetable that cut across both external parasites e.g. tick, lice etc and internal parasites e.g. worms.
When raising cattle on a small acreage, you need to consider the breed. Different breed behaves differently under certain conditions. For instance, Brahmas cows do not do well in cold climates like others. Hence, choose those that do well in cold climates to make your cattle rearing profitable.
Besides, some breeds grow bigger than others, hence get miniature breeds for your small farm. Certain breeds come in handy for different purposes, know your purpose and buy the right cows. For instance, if the purpose of raising cattle is for meat, then you can consider raising Angus calves.
The cost of raising cattle vary by location, hence giving a good estimate happens to be a challenge. Raising cattle don’t come cheap but the feeling of accomplishment you get should be a trade-off. However, you need to be ready for unexpected expenses that may pop up at any point in the future. You can never know, the fund can come in handy during periods of cattle illness, an outbreak of disease etc.
What You Need To Raise Cattle
A lot goes into raising cattle that every homesteader needs to know. Cattle need all the care they can get else rearing them would end in disaster. Here are some items that would come handy to help you raise your cows to become fit and healthy animals.
Premier PoultryNet Plus – White, Double Spike, 48″ H x 100’L
Built to keep your cattle in, this 48″ electrifiable prefabricated fence bars deer, bear, raccoons, rabbits, skunks, foxes, coyotes and stray dogs. Plus also help keep your poultry, sheep, goats and guard dogs at bay. This unique net comes with 15mm line posts every 6.8 ft which reduces sagging. It adapts seamlessly to curves, dips and rises due to the line posts that separates it from other nets.
Patriot PE2 Electric Fence Energizer Plus 250-Feet Made In USA 17 Gauge Spool Aluminum Wire
This energizer and aluminium wire help keep small annoying animals at bay while confining pets. The 110-volt AC plugin 0.10 Joule model with low impedance energizer can deliver power to the end of the fence, even under foliage, undergrowth etc. Patriot PE2 comes with a LED indicator that throbs when the energizer runs.
Zareba ESP10M-Z 10-Mile Solar Low Impedance Electric Fence Charger
Remotely located homesteads have one common problem – power. To solve this problem, Zareba Solar energizer comes in handy. With a 0.15 output joule of energy, it works best for animals with short hairs like horses, cattle and pigs. It comes with a durable case and a built-in solar panel that stores power to energize your fence line for up to two weeks.
Zareba save money on your electric bill so order now on Amazon:
TruCare 4 Top-Dress Trace Mineral Blend for Livestock: Beef Cattle, Dairy Cattle, Deer, Elk, Goats (Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Cobalt)
For your cattle’s health and wellbeing, TruCare mineral blend is all you need. It comes with essential bioavailable Trace mineral that helps your animal feed well, develops healthy skin, coat and hoofs. TruCare also gives digestive support to your cattle and livestock. Besides, it boosts reproductive performance, aids the development of strong bones and joints.
TubTrug SP260 Medium Orange Flex Tub, 26 Liter
TubTrug comes from 100-per cent food-grade plastic making them suitable for all. Its frost and sun-proof features make it last longer under the sun or frosty conditions.
It comes with super-strong handles which will not break off while handling. It comes handy for different jobs on and off the farm. It has a capacity of 26 Liters (6.9 gallons) and easier to handle than regular buckets or tubs.
Safe-Guard Dewormer Suspension for Beef, Dairy Cattle and Goats, 100ml
Worms pose danger to your animal if not taken care of in time. Safe-Guard Dewormer help you deworm your farm animals to keep them healthy. It gets rid of various worms including hookworm, whips worms, rounds worms and some kind of tapeworms. You can use it for your cattle or pet as a preventive or eradication drug.
VS-660 Electronic Livestock Scales for Veterinary Animal-like Dog, Goat, Calf, Hog, Pig, Sheep 4H 43″ x 20″ Stainless Steel Cover Rubber Mat
This electronic scale has a 660-pound capacity and sensitivity of 0.2 pounds. It comes with a 43″ x 20″ stainless steel cover rubber mat to make weighing easy. It comes with an indicator having large easy to read digital readout in pounds or kilograms.
It features an exclusive lock-on feature that averages your animal’s weight eradicating movement of the animal during weighing. It runs on 120v AC power and/or batteries.
Magrath Hot Shot Prod
Moving your livestock effectively and efficiently can be a challenge if you don’t have the Magrath Hot Shot Prod. It comes made of tough structural grade, high-impact plastic with a flexible shaft. It conducts electric efficiently and has a long battery life.
For well over 40 years in the US and globally, the Magrath prod has proven itself as a market leader. It lasts long since it has no moving parts to wear out or change.
Care Tips in A Nutshell
Here are some care tips every homesteader planning to raise cattle should use:
- Plan the feeding of your animals properly because cows eat a lot and can surprisingly eat all the grazing grasses you depend on. Hence, you need to have a special fund for buying pales of hay when the occasion arise.
- Do not overcrowd your acreage; it would lead to stress and loss of weight.
- Do not raise bulls if you decide to breed your cattle. You can arrange with a neighbour or opt for artificial insemination.
- Add supplements like vitamins and minerals if your feed or pastures lacks the necessary dietary requirement.
- Check your cow every day to discover any health issues that might arise – this you can get from its behaviour.
- Do a routine deworming of your cattle – check with your local vet for details.
- Install a restrain to help you when you administer drugs to them or when the vet comes calling.
- Have a back-up plan in times of drought to ensure a continuous supply of water to the animals.
- Spray fly repellent to control and keep fly away from your cattle.
- Electrify your fence to keep away wild animals and others that spread diseases. This will help contain your cows and while keeping carnivores and stray animals away.
- Mix grains in their feed and use it to calm them when trying to get them to move or doing other things.
- Be mindful of dates and records.
Q: What different options of feed are available for my cattle?
A: Various food sources can make up a cow’s diet such as grass, alfalfa, and hay. Cows need energy giving food like grains and normally they consume about 24 pounds of food (most of which is hay) in a day.
Q: Speaking of grains, how much of it should I feed my cow per day?
A: There is no hard and fast rule about feeding grains to your cows but for best result, feed them about 2.5% of the bodyweight of the animal per day.
Q: Cowsheds: do I need them? If yes, how large should it be?
A: Well, you need a cowshed, it keeps your cattle from a direct hit of the weather. When animals are kept in the open weather, they get stressed and would use the energy for developing to cope with the heat. Finally, a cow requires between 20 to 30 square feet of space, so peg it at that measurement.
Q: I want to know how many gallons of milk a cow produces in a single day.
A: The capacity of milk produced per day depends on many factors however; a healthy milk cow can produce about eight gallons (30 litres) of milk in a single day.
Q: In winter, pastures don’t usually grow and in that case what should I feed my cows with?
A: During winter, you can switch them to hay or silage. However, you may feed them with grains only when they are in poor body condition or under extremely cold and wet weather. Also, provide plenty of water and free-choice mineral mix for your cows during winter.
Q: Apart from buying a bull, how else can I produce calves from my cows?
A: You can use artificial insemination. This method is a simple and convenient method of cattle breeding without investing in bulls. To know more, you can attend such classes that teach the subject or call an expert breeder.
Q: What quantity of beef can I get from one market animal?
A: This depends on certain factors including size of calf, breed, and body composition. Many beef breeds yield between 1,200 to 1,400 pounds of meat.
Q: How much weight will my cattle gain daily?
A: On average, daily gains depends on age, diet, environment and so on. The overall average rate of gain will generally be around 3 pounds per day.
Raising cows can be a worthwhile and rewarding activity for newbie homesteaders. From all the tips given above, you now are equipped with the first steps in raising cattle on your land. Ensure you check with local helps too since environmental factors goes a long way in affecting your cattle. Do take the tips to heart and make sure you do not miss anything else you are set to sabotage your own cattle farming.
Remember, start small so that you do not get overwhelmed by your cattle. Now that you know, start making your plans now to get started and do not forget to share your experience for other readers to learn from.
All the best!
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