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Livestock/Horses Cows, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, and other four-legged friends.

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  #1  
Old 09-22-2015, 11:20 AM
DaveD Male DaveD is offline
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Default Red Devon Cattle

Here's a short video of or new starter herd of Red Devon Cattle:

https://youtu.be/y0XYocfst4g

We're hoping for some great things in the realm of grass finishing from these guys!
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  #2  
Old 09-22-2015, 01:41 PM
gundog10 Male gundog10 is offline
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Very nice and it looks like you have plenty of grass.
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  #3  
Old 09-22-2015, 08:46 PM
CountryMom22 Female CountryMom22 is offline
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Looks like you've got a great start going there. I've had limited experience with the Devon, but they were all good tempered and easy to work with, including the bulls. Good luck with them!
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:06 PM
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Nice looking animals. Good luck with 'em.

FWIW: There are well publicized differences in several nutrients between "grass finished" vs grain finished beef: less cholesterol, more CLA etc etc. The health benefits are probably not really all that great (but it makes for great advertising).

There was a study (?from Sweden) a couple of years ago that showed those same differences in nutrients could be obtained by pasturing the cattle & allowing them grain, but withholding the grain for the last six weeks before slaughter.

We've done that and it gives them better performance and a lot more flavor without the toughness of purely grass-fed & finished beef.
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  #5  
Old 09-28-2015, 05:35 AM
DaveD Male DaveD is offline
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Thanks for the feedback guys! We've added one more since that video was shot...a nice little heifer calf! The heard is growing!

Doc
That's interesting info on the Swedish study. I've never seen that take before. I have seen documentation of the nutrient profile changing in as little as 30 days with animals being off grass and switched to grain, so I guess it makes sense that the opposite would be true. Part of the reason we chose the devon breed was for their ability to fatten and finish on grass alone. The potential health benefits seem like icing on the cake as compared to the financial benefit. Grass grows all over our property, grain not so much. Reducing off site inputs is kind of a big deal for us.
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  #6  
Old 10-12-2015, 11:23 AM
DaveD Male DaveD is offline
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Here's a new video of the cattle from a couple days ago:

https://youtu.be/Cj92mBpXwwA

They're looking pretty good getting ready to head into winter. We're not looking to gain a whole lot (except the calves), just wanting to not loose body condition. We'll be feeding minimal hay as needed, I want them to forage as much as possible.
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  #7  
Old 10-12-2015, 12:49 PM
chrisser Male chrisser is offline
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Our neighbors raise cattle - large traditional breeds. It's a pretty common thing here in WV as the soil and terrain don't lend themselves to much other than livestock.

We have a few dozen acres of pasture and are thinking about raising some heritage breeds - probably one of the smaller ones and preferably one that is hardy enough to not need to be sheltered as we don't yet have a usable building for them.

But frankly it's a bit overwhelming to start from scratch.

If anyone knows of any good (and preferably concise) guides on starting off with cattle raising on a small scale, I'd be grateful for the recommendation.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:20 PM
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http://www.amazon.com/Storeys-Guide-.../dp/1603424547

http://www.amazon.com/Grass-Fed-Catt.../dp/1580176054

Two classics for you, Chrisser.

And here's an on-line guide for the Highland breed with wide general applicability http://www.highlandcattleusa.org/con...edersGuide.pdf

What do you mean by "small scale?" If you're talking about only 4 or 5 head, you can expect so little profit that you're really in it as a hobby, just making enough to cover the cost of producing your own personal meat supply. Nothin' wrong with that.
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  #9  
Old 10-13-2015, 05:23 AM
DaveD Male DaveD is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisser View Post
Our neighbors raise cattle - large traditional breeds. It's a pretty common thing here in WV as the soil and terrain don't lend themselves to much other than livestock.

We have a few dozen acres of pasture and are thinking about raising some heritage breeds - probably one of the smaller ones and preferably one that is hardy enough to not need to be sheltered as we don't yet have a usable building for them.

But frankly it's a bit overwhelming to start from scratch.

If anyone knows of any good (and preferably concise) guides on starting off with cattle raising on a small scale, I'd be grateful for the recommendation.
I think doing some research is a great place to start, but there is no substitute for experience. Learning what works on your land, with your forage, with your climate cannot be taught in a book. Doc's suggestions a great starting points to learn the concepts involved (I also think Joel Salatin's book "Salad Bar Beef" is a good one also).

We started with raising a couple commercial cattle for personal consumption just to try to get the hang of things and figure out the interactions involved (cattle, people, grass, etc). We're now moving into raising some of our own cattle (the Devons), and possibly getting into raising some feeders for the sale barn.

Eventually you need to just do it! Don't let paralysis from analysis set in.
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  #10  
Old 10-13-2015, 11:09 AM
chrisser Male chrisser is offline
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Thanks Doc and DaveD.

We moved to the rural place (mostly) about six months ago. So I'm looking to the near future.

Plan is to start with smaller animals - rabbits and chickens - this spring.

Once we have that pretty well established, then we'd move up to "medium animals" - pigs and possibly goats.

Then we'd likely get a few head of a smaller breed of cow for milk and household meat.

After that, I think we'll either expand the small breed cattle herd, or get some head of larger breeds for farm income. By then, we should have the rest of the farm pretty well established and sorted.

We have about 10-15 acres of very rolling pasture and I don't have a sense of how much livestock that can support yet.
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  #11  
Old 10-13-2015, 02:10 PM
Doninalaska Doninalaska is online now
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People here raise the Highland cattle mentioned in Doc's post without shelter, so I'm sure they would survive the temps in WV without shelter, but snow depth could be a problem unless you feed 'em. Boer goats deal with even Fairbanks weather without difficulty, so they might be an easier option, and they reach market size within 12 months or less.
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  #12  
Old 10-14-2015, 09:45 AM
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General rule is that you need 1 acre of good pasture per head, so it seems you have plenty of space & grass for several head. If you're mainly concerned with providing yourself with beef, dairy farms sell weaned calves for just a couple hundred bucks. It'll take another yr & a half or so to get 'em up to harvest weight, which means you'll have to feed 'em thru one winter, ie- hay.

Hay equipment is too expensive for you to buy any for your small acreage. A neighbor with equipment may do the job for you- usually ~$2 a bale around here, or go halves with you on the yield. You could also make hay by hand with a sickle & rake- not that tough for an acre or two. Plenty of youTube videos about that.

With that much pasture, I wouldn't mess with a small breed: a small one is just as much work as a big one, and a lot less meat. The only problem with using dairy cows for meat is the size of the steaks, but it all tastes the same. Cannibals have the same problem when dealing with Pygmies instead of Suma Wrestlers.
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Old 10-14-2015, 11:01 AM
chrisser Male chrisser is offline
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Thanks for those round figures, Doc. Info like that helps a lot for a noob.

One of the things driving our consideration of a heritage breed would be milk production. There's just two of us and I worry a full size cow will produce more milk than we can use. Although I'm sure I could convince neighbors to take extra - they aren't doing any milking of their animals (at least not to my knowledge). Maybe it's worth having a small cow producing milk just for the household and larger animals for meat and potential market. Substituting goats milk instead is also a possibility. We're also not so isolated that the grocery store isn't an option - I work all over three counties so unless we're in a SHTF situation, we don't necessarily have to be completely self-sufficient, although that's the goal. And I'm a milkaholic.




I looked into hay equipment at one point and it is too expensive for our acreage. All the neighbors bale and I'm sure they'd provide us with their surplus. Only downside is they all do round bales and square bales would be a little easier for us to move around, but we could likely make do (we have a tractor) and there are other local sources.
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  #14  
Old 10-14-2015, 04:30 PM
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With all that pasture, it would be a shame to have to buy hay to keep a beef cow over the winter. An acre should yield 40-50 small square bails per cutting (~50 lb bales) and a cow will eat about 2 bales in 3 days, so you'd need to make hay from about 2 acres per head (or 1 acre cut twice). If you did it a little at a time by hand, you wouldn't even have to bale it, just make a hay pile like in the old days-- then you'd have someplace to play in your spare time, too

Even one milk cow would give you more milk than you can consume yourself-- 8+ gal/d if I'm not mistaken. One solution I've read about is to keep the calf on the cow and only milk her yourself for the little you use each day. One problem with keeping a single cow is, again, feeding it over the winter. If you're buying hay (it's $6/bale here) that becomes pretty expensive milk if you're not selling the excess.

I'm like you, mulling over the possibilities as I approach retirement. I'd like to be as self-sufficient as possible, but some of the choices, like milk from my own cow, doesn't seem to be efficient in terms of financial and time/work investment vs just buying it. Chickens for eggs, a couple bought calves & piglets (too much trouble to breed my own) each year for meat and I'll only have to go into town occasionally to buy whiskey.

Last edited by doc; 10-14-2015 at 04:43 PM.
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  #15  
Old 10-19-2015, 10:07 AM
DaveD Male DaveD is offline
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I think a fella' could do seasonal dairy just when the grass is nice and then let the cow dry down and only have the calf working on her for the winter. Any excess milk would be greatly appreciated by the pigs and chickens, as well as dogs, cats, etc. I read raw milk is dynamite to spray on your pasture or garden as a soil supplement as well (diluted I think). Many possibilities for excess milk, especially if you're only producing seasonally.
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  #16  
Old 11-28-2015, 02:29 PM
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-saw this article and remembered this thread:
https://www.ruralheritage.com/new_rh...re_green.shtml
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  #17  
Old 11-30-2015, 05:13 AM
DaveD Male DaveD is offline
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Thanks doc, that was a nice read!
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  #18  
Old 12-01-2015, 02:10 PM
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Tim Horton Male Tim Horton is online now
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Sounds as though a breed that is weather hearty, able to convert available feed the most efficiently, regardless of being only a 3/4 size animal is a good choice.. Every ones situation will be a little different..

Agree... If you have neighbors with hay equipment it is easier, better to make a deal to take care of your hay ground...
----
One thing I have seen here for small producers... You have a tractor, I presume a compact utility, or other chore size tractor rather than a row crop or lawn tractor... Even without a front end loader, the cheapest round bale moving equipment you would need is a 3pt round bale mover.. Also this is the cheapest attachment you may ever need.. Similar to this..
http://www.kingkutter.com/store-product.aspx?id=3536

Set your net wrapped round bales where you want them in your feeding area, well spaced.. Roll bales onto a pallet.. Surround bale with something the livestock can't get through... When ready to feed, unwrap protection, turn bale on end and surround with feeder ring...

I have seen people use 6' high chain link, 2 layers high of lath snow fence, or in one instance someone made there own "snow fence" looking enclosures with 6' saw mill slabs and 1/4" cable.. Again, unwrap cover, unwrap bale, turn on end, enclose in feeder ring...

Maybe kind of a crude way to go about it, but minimum equipment and minimum handling for a small volume of feed...

Good luck..
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