MollyGreen.com | Fall on the Homestead | Fall 2016
Another thing you have to decide is if
you are going to buy calves and raise
them to eat, or buy a cow and breed it.
If you decide to buy calves, you have to
consider the price of the calves. That
price will fluctuate from year to year. It
all depends on the market at the time
of sale. Once those calves are raised and
butchered, if you want other calves, you
have to buy more. To cover the cost of
keeping the calves, some people will
butcher one calf and sell others.
A cow is a more sustainable way of getting meat, but you will have to breed her.
You do that by artificial insemination,
buying a bull, borrowing a bull, or buying a cow that is already bred. Whichever you decide, it will take longer to
get a calf and grow it to butchering size.
Plus, you have an extra mouth to feed
throughout the year. For us, having a
bull is our best solution. We have the
space and experience to have a bull. I
would suggest getting some experience
with cattle under your belt before you
tackle getting a bull for breeding. But if
you have the space, and once you have
experience, you can have meat on your
table for just the cost of feed. I think that
is a good deal!
After you have figured out how many
bovine you want to raise on your farm,
you have to make certain you have good
fencing. I always say that a fence is more
of a suggestion to cattle. Like any large
animal, if it really wants to get to the
other side of the fence, it will. However,
we have found that, in our experience,
cattle usually are happy as long as they
have food and water. But be warned, you
will still have “that one” that will not stay
inside a fence. Those are the ones that
we usually take to sale or to the butcher
a little early.
Shelter for cattle is simple. Anything
that they can get in out of the weather
will work. We have one side of our barn
open so the cattle can go in. But I will
tell you, ours like to stay out in the rain,
snow, and sleet. The hot sun is another
story. That is usually the only time we
see the cattle inside. Their winter coats
protect them from hard winter weather,
and we have seen them many times with
a few inches of snow on their backs.
Usually if they have snow on their back
it means they are insulated very well.
Snow on their backs means they are
not losing any heat from their bodies,
because, if so, it would melt the snow. So
snow on the back isn’t really a bad thing.
A bitterly cold wind will sometimes
make them go in the barn. But if they
have a wind break made of trees, they
will be just as happy standing beside that
stand of trees.
If you spend time with your cattle, you
will have nice friendly animals that can
be a good addition to your farm. They
can almost become like pets. Cattle have
many breeds and many different sizes,
even miniature sizes that need even less
space and less feed. Do your research!
I’m sure you can find the right ones that
will work for you and your farm.
And then, when you’re grilling that big,
juicy T-bone, you will have the satisfaction of knowing where that cow came
from, what it was fed, and that it had a
nice life. And oh, it tastes so good!
Sherri and her husband live
on a farm in the foothills
of the Appalachian Moun-
tains. They have been raising
cattle for more than twenty
years. They also have horses, chickens,
rabbits, and Australian Shepherds. You can
follow their adventures on Sherri’s blog,