Cow to butcher

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by kardar2, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. kardar2

    kardar2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2013
    Jones valley area
    I did a search with this title but nothing really came up. Anyways
    Before I head over to google I figured I would stop by here first for your two cents.

    The wife and I are wanting to raise a calf to butcher.( We know nothing about this subject.) So is there a certain breed better/ cheaper to raise? How long does it take to raise till butcher ? How much grain a day do you feed it with alfa I am guessing like a 1 or 2 flakes of alfa? Thanks
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Raising beef, you start with a beef breed. Just like with chickens (egg or meat breeds), cattle come in primarily beef and dairy breeds.
    I like Angus but Herefords, Charloais, Shorthorn, Dexter and others are good. Most small rural towns have an auction barn where they have sales weekly.
    You want to buy a feeder calf. (stage after weaning). Ideally you want to butcher at about 18 months of age.
    That way you get the best bang for the buck and they start finishing out then.
    You can butcher much earlier if you prefer.
    As for grain, they don't need it if they have good grass. Lots of people like grain fed or finished beef and that's the way it has been done for a long time. However, cattle are grazers, not grain eaters. Feeding grain produced more unnatural fats in the animal. Grass fed and finished beef is much healthier for human consumption.
    Tell me about your pasture.
    Alfalfa hay is good but should be limited for cattle. We did feed and grow it but we mostly fed orchard grass, timothy, fescue and others. That's what we grow in the Midwest.
    I don't know what kinds of hay are available in CA.
    You can butcher yourself cause it isn't any different than butchering most other hooved animals except hogs.
    Most small towns also have a butcher shop where they will slaughter, butcher and freeze to your specifications.
    I hope this helps.
  3. kardar2

    kardar2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2013
    Jones valley area

    I live in northern CA. It gets very hot and very dry. We have a lot of fires in the summer. Some folks have irragation but I don't .all I have is this.all the ranchers have there cattle eating this grass. But they ship them off to market. So I thought I would have to feed mine grain. I have 8 acres. We do have meat lockers but we want to save money and do it our self. We do have a cattle auction that we can go too.
  4. SolomonMan

    SolomonMan Just Hatched

    Jul 19, 2016
    We are new to raising cattle as well. We have in the past raised pigs, chickens, rabbits, ducks and turkeys for the table. We are raising a steer strictly for our table....I am located in Ohio.. We recently purchased a small 2.5 acre farm that has the option of another 20 acres.

    I have also heard and read that Dexters are very good for small Homesteads....Unfortunately I was not able to locate one locally that fit the budget (calf or otherwise)...Angus was my second choice....The reason for it getting second choice was its shear size ...I was initially somewhat intimidated...One thing to keep in mind on purchasing is many of times the price is based by $$ per pound...Which makes sense as cost is related to age/weight vs the time to send animal to freezer camp. Younger they are the more care...the older the closer they are to freezer.

    I guess around where we are at (and most other dairy areas) that the Holsteins are milk cows of choice. Evidently, the local large dairy producers purchase impregnated cows. These cows give birth and the Cows are then put into the dairy production. The Calves are sold/sent to local cow/steer farms that raise these animals for different purposes. The baby cows are commonly sold back once impregnated to a dairy production facility or as baby cows for small farms. The bulls are usually sent to the freezer camp/table either as veal or as full grown steers.

    We like many of our neighbors ended up purchasing a nice Holstein calf that was still on the bottle (milk) but has just recently begun to eat both grain and pasture grass. The cost was about a third of the cost of an Angus of same age. I assume this varies by location and time of year. The main reason we did end up going this route was the initial cost and our experience level.

    We have been using a lead to train him in walking to and from different locations on the homestead and have had to bottle feed 2-3 times a day.

    I have read that the above is very common approach...basically to get our feet wet type of approach....I know people have mentioned that the meat quality/amount may not be good..which I accept as a possibility...but I have read that may be largely based more on animal, feed, and care...Statements like the following..."Their meat consistently grade choice or better. Their yield grade is usually a two or a three. (They do have a lower dressing percent than native cattle.(angus,longhorn,etc.) A dairy-type ribeye is smaller and has less external fat than a beef-type ribeye. Otherwise, they are very similar in eating quality.".. Still made it plausible for our intent.

    I do highly suggest the Storey Guide to Raising Beef Cattle...

    One thing I have been researching is cost of butchering. The few places I have called usually, similar to hog preparations, split things by a kill fee and a certain amount per pound. With animals approaching a 1200-1500lb range the expense to butcher will be an expense. I have a neighbor who raises both Angus and Holsteins for the table and we may work something out.

    Hope this helps,

  5. kardar2

    kardar2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2013
    Jones valley area
    Thanks for the info. We will butcher our our self. There is some good YouTube videos that show how. I will make a steel post hang post with a hoist.
  6. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2015
    My Coop
    I live on a cattle farm, the angus cows around here jump fences regularly. We have a variation of beef master and will Charloais if I remember correctly. They are very docile.
  7. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 10, 2010
    A friend of ours raises beef - one for himself and family, three or 4 more for selling. The local butcher told us that Jack's beef is what he buys for his freezer at home. To quote the butcher "I don't know what he does but his beef is tender, perfectly marbled and delicious!"
    Jack's beef are in the pasture with his wife's 2 horses. He feeds the beef'ers a little grain everyday as a treat - just to keep them friendly, he says. Actually, he is feeding them a little grain to keep them from stealing the horse feed, lol. Not nearly enough grain to make them fat, but just enough to keep them happy. His pastureland is in central Wisconsin, and he has three paddocks that he rotates through. It helps that he has enough land to support the herd. When the grasses get short, they move to the next paddock - he hates bare, muddy ground. No alfalfa - timothy hay only when needed (Horse hay). His pastures are always green and lush. His beef'ers come running to the fence when he is out in the yard. They demand daily head scratches and face rubbing - even from strangers.
    His cows are trained to come to the sound of the bucket - he taps a nail on the rim to call them for the evening din-din. This comes in very handy if they get out of the fence. They will follow him anywhere, just as long as he has his bucket and nail. A tree took out his fence on night and the next day we went to help find his beef, he looked like the pied piper walking down the side of the road leading the herd home - 4 beef and 2 horses walking behind him in single file.

    Talk to your local UW Extension agents about the carrying capacity of your land and ask for advice on pasture management. In Wisconsin where I grew up, you can keep a cow and her calf for a year on a 4 acre pasture without damaging the land. In some areas of Wyoming, you need 40 acres for a single cow with a calf.
    Jack prefers White-Face (aka Hereford) for his steers. In Wyoming, a nearby rancher raised Shorthorn for beef and they were very good also. The Shorthorn did very well on the high mountain dessert grasses that dominated his pastures.
  8. herfrds

    herfrds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2010
    We raise Herefords. Good temperment and good finishing.
    I would go talk to one of your neighbors who has cattle. See if you can buy a weaned calf from them. Just remember cattle are herd animals and do not like to be alone. Also your neighbor can tell you what vaccines the calf has been given and if it has been treated for parasites. Sale barns can be a crap shoot.
    If you are wanting to feed grain you can do ground barley or COB which is corn oats and barley that is steam rolled in molasses. It is more expensive so I would just do the barley. The barley will give the fat a more yellow look to it where as the corn makes it that more white color.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by