Best books for starting with pasture-raised pigs/beef?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by raindrop, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. raindrop

    raindrop Chillin' With My Peeps

    712
    4
    151
    Feb 10, 2008
    Western Oregon
    Thinking about raising a few steers, maybe some pigs at some point and just want to get a better idea of what to expect and prepare for. Will plan to raise "grass-fed" beef and "pasture-raised" pigs to eat here and sell halves or quarters to friends, family, etc. If all goes well may think of starting a CSA at some point.
    Thanks.
     
  2. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    I'm in the same boat, I'm thinking about getting dairy cow, but I have no clue where to look for the info I need! Hopefully someone will clue us in [​IMG]
     
  3. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    4,889
    16
    261
    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
  4. vickig

    vickig Chillin' With My Peeps

    163
    0
    119
    May 26, 2008
    Texas
    Edit
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2008
  5. Isisranch

    Isisranch Out Of The Brooder

    61
    0
    39
    May 27, 2008
    Strasburg, Colorado
    [​IMG] I completely agree with the book recommendation above. I have one for each of my animal types.

    How much space do you have? Raising cattle is much much easier if you can keep them on pasture all year. Here is what we do... We have 120 acres that is split into three sections, all natural grasses. We alternate them about every 4-5 months between pastures to allow the rest to grow back. We supply them with a salt block and a mineral block. Grain is not necessary if you have a good pasture. Grain can also be a problem with bloating.

    A couple of tips on cows:

    1. Feed them lower quality hay. Expensive hay really doesn't have enough benefit to justify the price and cows have so many stomachs they can utilize much more of their feed then say a horse. Avoid Alfalfa unless it is a mix with grass.

    2. Feed grain/hay if enclosed on the opposite side of the pasture or pen from the water. Cows will eat until they can't eat anymore and follow it with gallons of water. This can create serious issues. Best solution is pasture that they eat slowly all day or feed in smaller portions or on the other side of pen so they have to walk.

    3. Fences must be well maintained. They will go through it. We run a single hot wire above our existing barbed wire.

    4. From birth to plate is a minimum of 2 years, you want to pen the animal about 4-5 weeks before slaughter and feed lots of corn, begin to omit the hay. Optimum weight is 1100-1500 lbs.

    They dont need a lot, just basically...salt, minerals, grass and fresh water at all times.

    I raise Scottish Highlands. I love the breed, they are easy keepers and are naturally resistant to most disease. I do not medicate or vaccinate unless someone gets sick. Hope this helps, Good luck!
     
  6. vickig

    vickig Chillin' With My Peeps

    163
    0
    119
    May 26, 2008
    Texas
    We do cross pasturing as well. That is why they can graze as long as they do.

    We feed "cow hay" as well, no horse hay.

    The only problem that I can see is if you can't cross pasture, they will eat all the grass and then start eating into the dirt, then they can get wormy. Luckily we haven't had those problems.

    We also don't have our bull in any pasture that shares a fence with a neighbor bull. I know this isn't possible for everybody, but it sure help keep my anxiety down [​IMG]

    Isisranch, sounds like ya'll have a good operation going.
     
  7. Isisranch

    Isisranch Out Of The Brooder

    61
    0
    39
    May 27, 2008
    Strasburg, Colorado
    Thanks!

    Yes, if you over graze comes the dreaded prairie dog!!!

    Our pigs are just little still so they right now are living in a stall of the barn with a run outside. We will be moving them to pasture when they are big enough to contain. Super easy keepers and fun as well. You can feed them almost any table scraps without meat, they LOVE stale bread!

    I was also going to mention that many times you can find hay for very reasonable that is from last year that may have a bit of mold etc in it. The cows can eat it fine as long as you are set up that horses can never get to it.
     
  8. vickig

    vickig Chillin' With My Peeps

    163
    0
    119
    May 26, 2008
    Texas
    Edit
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2008
  9. raindrop

    raindrop Chillin' With My Peeps

    712
    4
    151
    Feb 10, 2008
    Western Oregon
    We have about 10 acres of pasture, divided into fields about 6 and 4 acres. I live in the Willamette valley of Oregon, and grass seed "straw" is given away in midsummer, would this be a good winter feed? I can get some grass hay fairly easily too if needed.
    I was thinking of getting 2 steers at a time, maybe a few pigs. Can they live together on the same pasture, or should the cows be in one while the pigs are in another?
    I was planning on using primarily electric fencing if this works for cattle.

    Edited to add: When beef is marketed as "grass-fed" does that mean the cattle are never finished with grain? That's kind of what I thought.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2008
  10. Isisranch

    Isisranch Out Of The Brooder

    61
    0
    39
    May 27, 2008
    Strasburg, Colorado
    As far as what to get, here is my outlook on it. It depends on what you want them for. If you want meat you could buy two young steers and fatten them for the freezer. If you want to start creating a system that keeps you in beef ongoing, the best value for your buck is to buy a bred cow or a calf/cow pair (preferably with steer). We started with 3 bred girls, all of our steers are raised for meat and the heifers become breeding stock. With one cow you could do AI and not worry about a bull. I guess it's just preference. Keep in mind that if you buy a steer, they generally run about $1.20lb live weight, by the time you feed them etc. you just about break even but you know where your meat came from. If you buy a pair, you can usually get both of them for about $700. Then you have a full steer of beef within 15 months that at optimum weight will pay for your pair and the feed. By the time he is butchered you should have another calf on the ground. This time your steer is mostly profit because you only had to feed it. I am rambling....hope this makes sense.

    I would keep the pigs and cattle seperate personally but a llama would be good to put with either.

    No grass-fed generally means they were on pasture, almost all cattle are finished on corn or corn mixture to marble the meat. I always felt it meant that they were not on feed lots or warehoused, usually that they are "free-range" so to speak
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by