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Thread: Beef Question

  1. #1

    Beef Question

    I have been thinking about raising some beef. I certainly have the land, and hay ground to feed them come winter, so its not a matter of if I should raise beef, its what type.

    Hereford, Black Angus, Dexter or Highland...they all make sense as far as beef goes, but prices here for these kinds go for 400-500 dollars for a calf just off a bottle. That is pretty high I think. Since we have a working dairy farm in the family, I can get calf's at the going rate. I can probably barter my way for a few calfs, but at most I would pay 75 bucks a piece...what my aunt gets paid anyway for bull Holsteins and Jersey calfs.

    I have been told that raising beef cows from milking stock is not very profitable. I will spend far more money on raising them per pound then real beef cows. I am trying to confirm that. With calfs of the better grade beef cows so high though, it seems like I would have a 400-500 dollar head start on the price. In other words I would have to raise the true beef cows until they were 3-4 years old instead of a 1 with the dairy cows.

    Maybe some figures will help. The last time I raised Steak, a Holstein Bull, I raised him from calf until he was 1 years old. I am not sure what the live weight was, but he yielded 450 pounds of meat for my freezer. He went through about 60 bales of hay, and a bag of grain a month. (He liked calf grain with 3% molasses, so he got that. Hey I'm a softy deep down inside).

    I can get my pick of Jerseys and Holsteins. I am thinking a Jersey may be a better choice. I have heard that Jersey-Black Angus cross-breeds taste great, so down the road I can either breed the Jersey bull to a Black Angus, sell the Jersey as super tasty grass-fed beef, or keep it for myself. In other words more options then Holsteins. Our Holsteins far out number our Jersey's however, and I can get a brute of a calf right now that is a Holstein. (How its itty-bitty mother passed that calf is unknown )

    Anyway, I got a lot of choices here. I would love to start an all Black-Angus or Hereford herd, but the truth is, it would be a whole lot cheaper to start a herd from Holsteins and Jerseys since they are essentially free and already exist on the family farm. If you were in my position, what would you do?
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    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
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    for eating look at beefmaster.....
    http://www.beefmastercattle.com/
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
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    If you're raising a beef calf for meat for your use, I'd pick one of the dairy cows and when you freshen her, have her bred to a good beef bull (I'm assuming you use artificial insemination - forty years ago (where I lived), the cost was very low because the state was supporting it to improve the herds.). We used to do that and the meat was always good, and the calf grew well (was big and had lots of meat). Of course, it's better if you get a male calf and turn him into a steer, but even heifers do okay.

    If you have to sell a mixed (dairy/beef) cow, you don't get much but they work very well for your own use. But it's been 40 years since I lived on a farm, so take that for what it's worth.

    [Added comment: 45 to 50 years ago, a good male whiteface calf (show quality), just weaned, would bring $200-$250. So prices haven't gone up that much. Also, we often got calves very young - don't remember why - and raised them on a nipple bucket. Just more work, and cost of the milk powder, but they did fine.]

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 04-04-2008 at 03:53 PM.
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  4. #4
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    You obviously have way to much time on your hands Travis. Have you thought about a hobby?
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Horton View Post
    You obviously have way to much time on your hands Travis. Have you thought about a hobby?
    Maybe woodworking???
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  6. #6
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    Travis, before you start pouring money into a cattle operation, make sure that you talk to some other people about what is involved. I have a friend in Tennessee who was raising cattle on his farm, and he had to give it up - getting up at all hours to go out into all sorts of weather to find calves, helping with the calving (mama cows don't always get it right), the expense of illnesses, medicines, colic, worming, etc. All of that finally got too much for him. Unless you start out with lots of bucks to support the operation, you'll be seeing red ink in a short time!!
    Nancy Laird
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  7. #7
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    Starting with the dairy calves can be an inexpensive way to get going. But, they won't bring top prices at the auction barn. However, using the initial profits you can buy some modern heifers (not the breeds you mentioned) and a decent bull. My recommendation would be Maine-Anjou crosses. Or standard breeds with a Maine or 3/4 Maine-cross bull. Your experience with the Holstein should tell you why. The dairy breeds are not bred to make muscle (meat) and you fed him much-much more than a modern beef breed would need to produce equivalent weight of beef. I understand what Nancy was cautioning about. I've been there, done that. Had to strip bare to the waist in below freezing weather with rain and sleet coming at me to pull a calf. Lot more hard work that wasn't fun at the time. Can't tell you how much I miss it. Giving up cattle was giving up a big part of my life. Even at my age, finances permitting, I would go back to it in a heartbeat.
    Final suggestion, start going to your local auction barn. Watch and take notes on what sells well and prices brought. Get there early and have coffee with the regulars. Better'n a college edukation.

  8. #8
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    Holstein steers bring a premium if they are of the size to give the big 16 oz steaks! Otherwise, cheaper per pound than beef steers. Will bring the paper and prices to school next week and give you an auction report.
    Any 4H quality/show quality calves bring in the neighborhood of 1-10 thousand dollars.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    Final suggestion, start going to your local auction barn. Watch and take notes on what sells well and prices brought. Get there early and have coffee with the regulars. Better'n a college edukation.
    i`ll second this
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Horton View Post
    You obviously have way to much time on your hands Travis. Have you thought about a hobby?
    Wish that was the case.

    My Dad recently lost his job. The owner shut down the store with no warning, leaving Dad high and dry after 26 years of faithful work. He was also left 8 months shy of his retirement. Now he is scrambling for a stop gap measure in the income. At the same times taxes are really high this year and probably going up. COC rules prohibit talking about politics so I will just say, Maine has the highest taxes and its going up again this year.

    Now you have a 34 year old son, a forced into retirement Dad, and a farm in limbo. We did not really plan for this to happen now, but if I can get a farm loan, I can buy the farm, (no pun intended). This will give my dad the money he needs to retire,and the family farm stays in the family.

    Normally I would just call this another turn-over on the old family farm, but that is not the case. For years we have not really done anything super productive with this farm. It has just sat making a bit of money on light logging, and some corn and hay production. The amount of money it generated was squat really. Not even enough to pay the taxes, but we had enough income to get by just fine.

    In a weeks time, things have changed. My Dad cannot afford taxes on 1200 acres and my Mom has a pretty affluent lifestyle. She wants to sell it off. My Dad wants to keep it in the family, and so do I. The problem is, with my 400 current acres, this would give me 1600 acres...quite a chunk. I can keep it, and make something with it, but only if I maximize its profitability. Simply put I just cannot work an outside job and be a large landowner.

    After talking with dad it appears the only thing this land ever did profitably was grow trees and raise cows and potatoes. I don't have the equipment for potatoes farming, so cows looks like the venue I am taking.

    In the last week I have spent more time calling the US Dept of Agriculture and will see a woman soon that will help me create a farm plan and get some training and classes in farming. I am an experienced farmer, but this is a new year and new times and a new world wide market. I could use the help.

    I am a bit overwhelmed at the moment. This is all a gift horse no doubt, but a big one,and one that I can't kill. This is family land and has been in the family since King George the Second gave it to my Great Grandfather. I'd love to get out in the woodworking shop, but suddenly I got more important issues to deal with. Thankfully the US Dept of Agriculture in Maine anyway, is heavily involved in keeping the American Farm as farms and not house lots.

    Most people don't realize the amazing pressure that is on the American Farm right now. Suddenly its at my door and I find myself with a lot of hard, tough decisions to make that will affect everything.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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