A Few Beef Cattle Basics
Cattle ranching can be a successful business for the smaller
operations, but profits in this business aren’t necessarily measured in fattened wallets, fancy cars or huge
Instead, a successful operation can mean you earn enough to pay your property
taxes and sustain your herd and your operations year after year.
Once you’ve made the decision to get into the business, for whatever reason, you
need to do a few things,
Tap Your Resources
First, you need to find out where you are going to get the cattle in the first
place. Some recommend buying weaned calves or feeder cattle that are somewhat older. Local newspapers, the internet
or local farming organizations and extensions can be great resources for finding a few head or advertising that you
are looking to buy. They also can tell you what type of cattle you should explore based on your particular
situation and the lay of your land. Local auctions are, of course, a perfect place to start. Not only do these
provide the opportunity to purchase, but allow you to learn the ropes of the auction process, network within your
local and the national community. Make sure you know what you’re doing, though, before heading out to auction, as
often sick animals are sold here as well.
When eyeing your pasture remember even though the pasture looks green and healthy
in the springtime, it will get drier in the late summer. Don’t think your land is bigger than your herd.
Make sure to understand the types of grasses and plan life on your land, and,
depending on the cattle you buy, know what types they prefer and if your land is suitable for their operation.
Local veterinarians and extension personnel are great resources for understanding what types of pastures work in
your particular area.
Pastures can be the key to a successful operation, as they provide a more
economical source of feed.
While you may think you need fancy barns and the latest hi-tech equipment,
getting started really only requires a small shelter to protect the cattle, as most of them will be perfectly
content to spend the majority of their lives roaming on the land you provide.
Know your land as well and make sure to prep it prior to welcoming any cattle on
to the land. Trees provide great sources of shade when the temperature climbs and can often be adequate shelter
from winds and rains.
Also, make sure your fences are in good working order, nothing elaborate is
necessary, but sturdy wired fencing is a must to keep the cattle from roaming out of bounds and into the neighbor’s
Many agree that Legume hay will produce good beef; plan for roughly ½ to ¾ ton of
hay in fattening out a steer or heifer. When it comes to hay, one expert said alfalfa is tops for beef cattle but
it is also the most expensive
For feeding, corn is widely touted for its fattening effects and make sure to have salt
blocks or salt around at all times. Salt is crucial to cattle.
While water consumption will vary among breed and season, your typical cow
requires roughly 12 gallons of good, nutrient rich water per day. Water is one of the main sources of nutrients for
cattle, so it is important your water supply is tested for pollutants, bacteria and algae growth before the cattle
start drinking it. Troughs are a good way to go, especially for small herds, but invest in a heating system for the
winter and make sure to practice regular cleaning to avoid algae growth or foul odor
Beef Cattle Body Condition Score