cover2

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Part of my semi-retirement gig involves the missus and me tending the cows. We live on the farm my wife grew up on. Both of her parents have passed on and she and her brother are the co-owners. He lives in West Florida so we take care of the day-to-day things. Since I’m still doing some school work, my wife gets up and checks the fences and counts the herd every morning. Right now we’ve got a bull, 26 heifers, and 22 young ones, an Angus herd.

The extent of my agricultural background was shade tobacco and produce as a much younger man. As far as cattle, I can cook one pretty good, at least a variety of the parts! It has been both interesting and fulfilling. We recently fed out 3 steers for the two families. About 14 weeks of feeding 3-4 buckets of custom grind feed twice a day, during the cold (and wet) time of the year. The steer we kept yielded ~660 lbs of meat; we had $550 in feed and .65/lb processing. Cost out of pocket was $979 or $1.48/lb, not including the sweat equity of the feeding. We just finished last year’s steer, so we filled the freezer up. It may not be gigantic savings (not all 660 lbs were steaks!), but it is good meat and there’s a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. It also feeds all of our bunch.

Next up will be to sell the calves. Price has been up and we’ll need to start adding to the herd to replace some of the older mamas. Our operation is relatively small, but it’s enough right now. It’s nice to see everything greening up.
 

Fodderwing

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Once they have calved, the females aren't heifers anymore, they are cows.

You planning to purchase replacement heifers? Kind of hard to save replacements from a small herd, they would be breeding back to their sire (inbreeding).

Or you could save some heifers and sell your current bull and buy a new one.
 

CGgater

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Mrs CG wants to move to the country in a few years and have a few acres for a small farm. I told her we need to start with chickens and slowly progress from there because we don’t have any real experience.
 

cover2

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Once they have calved, the females aren't heifers anymore, they are cows.

You planning to purchase replacement heifers? Kind of hard to save replacements from a small herd, they would be breeding back to their sire (inbreeding).

Or you could save some heifers and sell your current bull and buy a new one.
I told you I was a green hand when it came to this cattle business! We sell all the calves except the steers we finish. So, yes, the plan is to replace the old mamas a few at a time. To your last point, brother-in-law figures we’ve got one more season with the bull, so we might keep the daughters this year, but truthfully the old man produces more boys, about 8-9 to 1, so we aren’t expecting many to keep forward. Talked about not buying another bull. Just have to see how things shake out, but I suspect we will. The fellow we got the other current bull from is out of business. The one before this one came from the Graham’s from Icheway in Baker Co. Ga. so I guess we’ll be shopping most likely.
 

Gator By Marriage

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Part of my semi-retirement gig involves the missus and me tending the cows. We live on the farm my wife grew up on. Both of her parents have passed on and she and her brother are the co-owners. He lives in West Florida so we take care of the day-to-day things. Since I’m still doing some school work, my wife gets up and checks the fences and counts the herd every morning. Right now we’ve got a bull, 26 heifers, and 22 young ones, an Angus herd.

The extent of my agricultural background was shade tobacco and produce as a much younger man. As far as cattle, I can cook one pretty good, at least a variety of the parts! It has been both interesting and fulfilling. We recently fed out 3 steers for the two families. About 14 weeks of feeding 3-4 buckets of custom grind feed twice a day, during the cold (and wet) time of the year. The steer we kept yielded ~660 lbs of meat; we had $550 in feed and .65/lb processing. Cost out of pocket was $979 or $1.48/lb, not including the sweat equity of the feeding. We just finished last year’s steer, so we filled the freezer up. It may not be gigantic savings (not all 660 lbs were steaks!), but it is good meat and there’s a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. It also feeds all of our bunch.

Next up will be to sell the calves. Price has been up and we’ll need to start adding to the herd to replace some of the older mamas. Our operation is relatively small, but it’s enough right now. It’s nice to see everything greening up.
It’s bigger savings than you are giving yourself credit. I’m guessing the feed was of higher quality than the average, they ate a lot of grass when the weather was right, and you are aware of everything they were fed/medicated with as opposed to the steaks at the supermarket. To find comparable meat, you’d probably have to go to a high quality butcher and pay a premium price.
 

cover2

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It’s bigger savings than you are giving yourself credit. I’m guessing the feed was of higher quality than the average, they ate a lot of grass when the weather was right, and you are aware of everything they were fed/medicated with as opposed to the steaks at the supermarket. To find comparable meat, you’d probably have to go to a high quality butcher and pay a premium price.
You’re right. The part that doesn’t show up in the financials is the labor provided To feed them. The feed used was of higher quality. BIL handles getting that and it’s a pretty rich mix of corn, cotton seed meal, etc. We actually wormed everybody yesterday, but outside of the Ivermectin, about the only other medicine they might have would be a dose of penicillin if one or two get a runny nose. Again, BIL handles that part as I am no expert in animal husbandry.

The cattle also play a big part in helping keep our three pastures clean, plus they also graze under the pecan trees (another little ag sideline). When my father in-law was alive, he refused to buy hay through the winter, relying only on winter rye. By the time spring came around, the cows were all pretty bony. We still plant the rye, but also supplement with a roll of hay every other day for about three months, which is about $3200 plus the hauling. FIL never cut hay either, but that’s next up for us as we have two of the three pastures that will be ready to cut for next winter. Fertilizer has gone through the roof, however, so there’s another added cost to things.

But it is all very rewarding. Seeing the calves come into the world and grow up is pretty neat. I never had this experience when I was coming along. I worked on my granddaddy’s tobacco farm (and later pole bean operation) until he retired and I went to college. He would always buy a couple of steers each year and pen them up and pour the corn to them. About all I ever did was haul a wheel barrow full of corn from the crib from time to time, so even as an older man, this has been a relatively new experience for me, but very satisfying.
 

Gator By Marriage

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You’re right. The part that doesn’t show up in the financials is the labor provided To feed them. The feed used was of higher quality. BIL handles getting that and it’s a pretty rich mix of corn, cotton seed meal, etc. We actually wormed everybody yesterday, but outside of the Ivermectin, about the only other medicine they might have would be a dose of penicillin if one or two get a runny nose. Again, BIL handles that part as I am no expert in animal husbandry.

The cattle also play a big part in helping keep our three pastures clean, plus they also graze under the pecan trees (another little ag sideline). When my father in-law was alive, he refused to buy hay through the winter, relying only on winter rye. By the time spring came around, the cows were all pretty bony. We still plant the rye, but also supplement with a roll of hay every other day for about three months, which is about $3200 plus the hauling. FIL never cut hay either, but that’s next up for us as we have two of the three pastures that will be ready to cut for next winter. Fertilizer has gone through the roof, however, so there’s another added cost to things.

But it is all very rewarding. Seeing the calves come into the world and grow up is pretty neat. I never had this experience when I was coming along. I worked on my granddaddy’s tobacco farm (and later pole bean operation) until he retired and I went to college. He would always buy a couple of steers each year and pen them up and pour the corn to them. About all I ever did was haul a wheel barrow full of corn from the crib from time to time, so even as an older man, this has been a relatively new experience for me, but very satisfying.
Sounds like a fascinating experience.
 

CDGator

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Love it! Look forward to hearing more about your experience.
Seedy and I have talked about cows and chickens but we were busy raising kids instead. Neighbors have them so I'd rather watch theirs instead. We had horses for a time but winter can be brutal caring for outdoor animals. We've been on this farm for 25 years and feel like a condo on the beach is in our future. Just have to figure out how we have a condo with no neighbors. :lol:
 

Altitude Gator

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That sounds great, Cover. Too much daily chore for my retirement.

The neighbors to two of our three parcels in WY is grazing them on our lots for the winter. Sounds like calving is about to start, so they will round them back to their lot for that, the put them back on our lots come late summer once the grass is back.

We don't charge for the grazing, but we get a significant property tax reduction for ag land and the grazing in late summer and fall knocks down the fire danger.

We are thinking of buying a couple cow/calf pairs for the boys to have perpetual beef for the cost of meds, feed and butchering.
 

Fodderwing

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Haven’t had that to deal with yet.


When I lived in Wisconsin, I used these to field dress deer, it was too cold to try to wash your hands in the woods, so the best option was to keep them clean.
 

cover2

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One of the mommas delivered twins early this morning, one boy and one girl. She chose the little girl and pushed the boy away. Only thing to do is bottle feed. BIL came to get him and will take him back to West Fl where he and his two boys will take turns with the bottle. I guess that’s just nature and the mom can only sufficiently feed one calf.

The only similar experience I can recall was back in my early teens on my granddaddy’s tobacco farm where he kept a few head of cattle and a mule for busting the middles and pulling the dust gun in the tobacco shade. One momma delivered a little male calf and the mule, for whatever reason, decided it wanted the calf and ran the momma off. The calf would try to nurse, the mule allowing it to try, but of course to no avail. Grandaddy made arrangements for the calf to go with a guy close by who ran a big herd, but he’d only take him if the calf was cut.

The plan was to separate the calf and the mule, then I would help my older cousin with the castration while my granddaddy kept the mule penned up. After getting the mule on the other side of the fence, we got the calf on its back, me straddling and holding the back legs. My cousin cut the sack and then cut the testes…just in the nick of time as the mule went crazy when the calf started hollering. It wound up busting through the fence and came after me and my cousin. Luckily, it settled down once the calf came to it. Never seen anything like it since.

Nature, I guess, can be a strange thing sometimes. The little male calf of the twins was well formed with no apparent problems. He was just unlucky where his momma’s choosing was concerned.
 

CDGator

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Poor little calf got the raw end of the deal. Maybe he could self identify as a girl and she would keep him too.
Very common. So glad he will be taken care of. Bottle raised babies are typically so sweet because they’ve been well socialized. My neighbors had one for the grandkids to raise.

I follow an Appaloosa farm that breeds spectacular horses. You have to be pre-qualified before they will even discuss prices privately. They’ve started breeding Friesian horses too. One of the Appaloosa mares had to be put down soon after giving birth. I think it was colic. The colt wanted to nurse from a Friesian mare with a new colt and she surprisingly let him. They couldn’t find another nurse mare for him so they made the tough decision to let the mare raise both of them. It will compromise the health and size of both colts from a nutrition standpoint but they were all happy and it has worked out well.
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cover2

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Another calf this weekend. We’ve had 6 so far this early Spring including the twins. The male that the momma wouldn’t take is doing fine at BIL’s. Their two labs have adopted the calf, staying with him during the day and helping to clean him up when he’s on the bottle (I think the dogs like the milk too). He fell into a good situation I suppose. Better than it could’ve been.

We’ve still got about 5 rolls of hay we’ll feed in the next two weeks, but the pastures are in good shape and starting to green up beyond the rye. We also burned our biggest pasture about a month ago and it has come back nicely. In total we have 72 acres they can graze and we are soon to add another 7 that we will fence and use to separate.

The gentleman that hauls to the market for us dropped by the other day and we’ll be sending 12 calves to the next sale plus one older momma that hasn’t had a calf in two seasons. Prices have been up so it is time to sell. Things would be looking better if fertilizer wasn’t so high.
 

CDGator

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We were watching Clarkson Farm, season 2, last night and they were raising and birthing cows for the first time. Reminded me of you, Cover. Except he has more money than sense at this point but he's learning a lot. Hilarious! It's definitely worth watching on Amazon Prime. He's not very PC and they've tried to cancel him because he said something mean about Meghan.

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