• Newbie

    Posted by Melijahmom on March 18, 2023 at 6:35 pm

    Hi all. Just bought my dream homestead. We want to start farming but are looking for information before we dive in. We want to do beef cattle but want a type that a newbie can handle. Thoughts/advice for anything from breed to fencing to feed.

    Melijahmom replied 1 day, 4 hours ago 7 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • BiggKidd

    March 18, 2023 at 7:09 pm

    First welcome. Second don’t try and take on to many projects at once. It’s nearly every homesteaders biggest issue.
    Dexter cattle are probably your best bet. They are a small homestead breed and heritage animals at that! So research them.
    Fencing depends on many factors. First and foremost don’t over space your posts. I think properly installed field fencing is about the best middle of the road option. ANY and ALL types of fencing needs to have proper corner braces and stays. Most importantly fence has to be tight, real tight and then tighter yet! The tension is what makes it solid enough to discourage large animals from pushing through. If they feel any give they will keep working it until they walk through it… This not meant for cows specifically but all large animals to include BULLS and BOARS and BEARS which can be some of the worst fence destroyers known to mankind. These don’t even have to be your animals they could be from 5 miles down the road and smell one of your ladies in heat and tear down the fence to get to them. Bears and deer on the other hand pay no heed to fences if where or what they want is on the other side!

    Hope this helps.

    Good luck!

    • Melijahmom

      March 28, 2023 at 11:45 am

      Thank you for the response. I appreciate your insight. We are definitely not ready for animals. That would be too much.

  • AiNt-RiTe-Acres

    March 18, 2023 at 7:21 pm

    Welcome to the life and congratulations! We’re somewhat new to it ourselves and though we haven’t gotten one yet we plan to keep 2 to 4 miniature Jerseys. We want dairy and beef. The Jersey in general isn’t ideal for beef moreso for milk but keeping the milk flowing will require the occasional calf. We have 17.5 acres and between the small fields, tree hay plus what we grow we believe we can keep them sufficiently fed. The smaller statute will help us with butchering and meat storage. I’m disabled and wifey is a superwoman but not strong enough to wrestle a 1200lb cow. Plus we plan to do this long after the kids are gone and were much older. So those are the considerations we’re making. Can we feed them from the homestead, will we get sufficient meat and/or dairy, what is their temperament, will processing from home be difficult and how much space will meat storage require. I hope this helps you figure out what breed is best for you. Remember if all else fails you can sell it, trade it or fill the freezer.

  • Raine-chime

    March 19, 2023 at 12:26 am

    Welcome to an awesome life! Lots of work but so worth it. It looks like you are getting some good advice here so far. Definitely have good fences in place before getting any livestock. It can be really tempting to get livestock first because it’s so exciting but you will regret it. Don’t ask me how I know. 😊

    American woven wire makes a really great fence especially with a strand or two of barbed wire at the top. Of course wooden posts are best but to save money you can space them out—like 2-3 T-stakes between each wooden post. Of course you can also go with all T-stakes. Either way, make sure the fence is tight and the corners are braced. The wire should also run on the inside of the posts so if cattle push against it, it won’t pop the staples out.

    You will probably also want a small corral. An easy way to make one is with a few gates or you can buy one at some farm supply stores. Then if you occasionally feed the cows in the corral it will be much easier to bring them in if you need to catch them for any reason.

    Now cows. I love cows. In my opinion, Jerseys make very nice homestead cows for milk but not a lot of meat for beef. Dexters have a reputation of being good all purpose cattle for the homestead. I have never owned dexters but the people I know who have, didn’t keep them for long. I understand they’re not really practical. Not much meat nor much milk. Unless, of course, you only want a very small amount. But obviously some people must like them or they wouldn’t be so popular.

    My favorite breed of beef cows is Herefords. Their only downside is that they are notoriously stubborn. (So are Jerseys) I like Herefords because they are usually calm, readily available and inexpensive. The beef industry has advertised black angus as the “best” for years because black angus cattle grow well and can handle the extreme temperatures of the prairie or desert better than some breeds. So black angus cattle are usually more expensive than other breeds. Personally I don’t care for angus because they’re often skittish and hard to handle.

    My choice for an all purpose cow for both milk and meat would be either Shorthorn or Belted Galloway but these usually aren’t as readily available as the more common breeds. They are nice medium sized cows that generally have good temperament and performance.

    In my opinion, the best flavored beef is from the Holstein cow but Holsteins are bred to produce milk and are very inefficient as meat producers. They make a lot of meat but it takes a lot of feed to produce it. They are also a very large cow. So they really aren’t practical for a homestead beef cow.

    Well, this all may be more information than anyone wants. 🤷‍♀️🙃 I can really get excited about cattle. I have lived around them most of my life and have owned all of the kinds I mentioned here except dexters so I can’t speak from personal experience with those.

    I wish you the best. Cattle are fun!

  • RenewedHomestead

    March 20, 2023 at 9:47 pm

    Hi, congratulations on finding your homestead! That is awesome. We run sheep and cattle and are starting out commercial grazing operation this year. I would highly recommend checking out Greg Judy. He has a school in May that I highly recommend.

    First thing you need to do is look at how much grazing land you have, that could be open pasture or silvopasture. Sheep are typically easier to get into. They have babies fast. A cow you are typically looking at 2 years. They are pregnant for 10 months and it is about a year before you can sell them for beef. The ratio is 6 sheep per acre or 1 cow per 5 acres. You can see how sheep can give you a bigger bang for your buck.

    I highly recommend rotational grazing. Better for the land, your animals, and far cheaper because you don’t have to feed as much hay, or any depending on climate.

    Then, if you want cows determine what type of cows are selling in your area. We like Dexters for our homestead but commercially here Angus and South Pole are by far the most popular. South Poles are great because they are a bit smaller and are easier on the land, but very expensive. Let me know if you want to chat, hubby and I are happy to answer any questions. We do have some videos in our YouTube playlist that discuss rotational grazing. Good luck!

  • HillsideHomesteader

    March 23, 2023 at 2:09 am

    Cattle like company, so it is best to wait to start until you know you are set up for at least 2. We have had Dexters for almost a year and are rookies. They are very easy to keep and laid back. Right now we are raising them to breed and beef, but chose them with the thought to milk in the future as well. From what I have read, they can produce 1-2 gallons/day while calf sharing (1 milking a day), which is still way more than our family would consume. There is way too much to put in a single response, so feel free to ask more specific questions.

    Before we started, a nearby farmer turned me toward Joel Salatin’s “Salad Bar Beef”, which was an outstanding read. I have since read several more of his books. This book is about more than just beef cows and worth a read. I loaned it out a while after reading it and it never came back. I valued it enough that I bought another copy to replace the one that didn’t come back.

    • Melijahmom

      March 28, 2023 at 11:44 am

      Thank you for your insight. I will look into that book for sure.

  • Oldman

    March 23, 2023 at 2:01 pm

    Dexter cows for sure. A smaller breed and easy to handle, hardy and easy birthing. My moms trust me and let me handle their babies from the get go. Be careful of some breeds as the moms can be overly protective and I have heard stories of people being nearly killed by an overprotective mama cow.

    • Melijahmom

      March 28, 2023 at 11:47 am

      I will look into those! I’m in Wisconsin so the weather is tricky for everything. But we do have 40 acres. Only about 20 would be available to cattle though.