Whether you’re starting your own herd or looking to add on, raising cattle can be financially rewarding. Beef farming slots in well with other agricultural enterprises, especially grain. Cattle can feed on resources that have little other use, such as crop residue and land not suitable for crops.
Before entering the cattle business, though, you should consider your resources, the land available and your level of interest and skill. You should know why you want to rear cattle, and be able to set yourself goals to achieve the most constant economic return or personal satisfaction.
Although it is not that difficult, It actually takes plenty of knowledge about animals, deep research and practical experience for becoming a successful cattle farmer.
The cattle farming industry can be divided into two key sectors – the first is the so-called cow-calf operations, and the second, the feedlots.
“Cow-calf operations” is the industry term for the breeding and raising of cattle for sale, for example to feedlots and groups like Beefmaster, or to tanneries for their hides, or medical companies for the production of insulin.
Cow-calf operations are driven to breed and raise quality offspring for the specific industry which they feed, be it raising beef cattle or dairy cattle, etc.
You should know why you want to rear cattle, and be able to set yourself goals to achieve the most constant economic return or personal satisfaction.
In Countries where there is lots of land and lack of food, starting a cattle breeding business can be a good way to enter a highly profitable market. It is important to invest in the production of high quality meat that is better suited for both local and international markets. Before start farming cattle, make sure you have the following:
– a big enough area where to keep the animals
– your favourite cattle breed
– feeding troughs
– farm equipment
– possibly a tractor
The first step is to decide the type of cattle you want to breed and the type of business you want to develop. In fact, before starting any activity, it is crucial to decide where you want to farm (the geomorphology and the climate of the area you choose will affect your success). After choosing the area, you would better purchase it or you may decide to rent. It is advisable to conduct some preliminary investigation on the type of soil and vegetation in that area, as well as everything else is needed to establish a profitable enterprise.
Choosing the breed is secondary to the decision you made for you enterprise:
– If you want to produce milk, you need dairy cows
– If you want to produce meat, you need a breed suited for this purpose and well adapted to the environment where it will be living
– If you need to use animals for work, then you must choose working breeds that are often suitable as two or three purposes together (milk, meat and work).
If you are willing to start dairy cattle farming business, then you can consider some popular dairy cattle breeds. Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Holstein and Jersey are some popular and common dairy cattle breeds.
In case of beef production, you should consider such breeds which are known for their good temperament and also which are not labor intensive. Some good beef cattle breeds are British White, Galloway, Hereford, Red Poll and Shorthorn. Angus cattle breed is also a good option for beef production, but they can be aggressive and not actually good for beginners. You can also choose both type of cattle for a combination of both beef and milk production.
Don’t go whole-hog and buy as many cows as you can stock on your property! Seek out a few quality cows that are right for your farm’s purpose. Look for ones with great conformation, which means a proper skeletal and muscular structure. Also, factor in the cow’s age, temperament, and overall health.
SELECT FARM LOCATION
Selecting a good location for your farm is very important. While selecting location, try to learn whether raising animals is permitted in your selected area or not. It will be good if there are good transportation and other required facilities available in the selected area. You can either use your existing land or purchase from a vendor. In case of purchasing land, it will cost you more.
Land prices generally tend to increase in areas where there is a higher population, or land is in higher demand than in other areas. It is also a good idea to purchase an existing or abandoned farm or ranch.
Shelter is a must for keeping your animals safe. You will need to build multiple buildings and milking parlor with stanchions if you want to raise dairy cattle.
A calf bard and a barn for holding cows is also necessary. On the other hand, beef cattle require less housing facilities. They will be good if you can just keep them safe inside.
No matter what kind of farm you start, you need a good barn to keep your cows when they’re not out to pasture. For calves, you have to have a calf barn and a calving facility. If you’re beginning a dairy farm, you will also need a milking parlor with stanchions. Beef cattle don’t require much in the way of extra facilities beyond well-supplied barns.
FOOD AND WATER
Food requirements of animals are also a part of cattle farming. To maintain high yielding and disease-resistant breeds, they must be provided with an adequate water supply and nutrient-rich fodder regularly according to their needs. In cattle farming, two factors are considered regarding the food of cattle. The food that is provided must keep the animal health as well as it should meet the farming requirement. Hence, the animal feed includes roughage (high fibre content) and concentrates (high proteins and nutrient content). In addition to this, supplements containing micronutrients are also provided to animals. An adequate proportion of these rations promote healthy and high output animals.
Each cow needs about 1 and half to 2 acres (0.61 to 0.81 ha) of pasture space per cow calf pair. This amount of space provides enough roughage for a year. Most farmers are able to keep multiple cows on a single pasture if they’re careful. If you leave too many cows in a pasture, they eat all of the grass. To prevent this, farmers rotate the cows to different fields. As long as you’re careful not to strain your resources, your fields will continue to produce roughage.
Cows eat a lot of food per day, so you need a constant supply of it. Hay is most of their diet, but they also benefit from foods like corn and grains that provide more protein. The easiest way to do this is to make hay by seeding a pasture with grass and alfalfa. Harvest it with a hay baler.
You need plenty of clean water to keep your cows hydrated and your pastures green. Install irrigation systems as needed to compensate for dry environments. For your cows, have water troughs available. Make sure you are able to reach them with a hose, refilling them when necessary. Having ponds or reservoirs on your property also helps. Depending on the land you start on, you may need to install plumbing or irrigation systems. Hire a contractor to direct water to your fields and barns.
In a weaner operation, you acquire calves after weaning at 10 to 15 months of age. They can then be fed and marketed in less than a year from the time of purchase.
Thus, the investment on each calf is returned within a comparatively short time. This type of operation may not require much land, but you will need adequate facilities to keep the animals comfortable and under control.
In a pasture-based enterprise, you buy weaned calves in early spring, put them onto pasture when the grass is at its best, and sell them when the pasture season is over.
On the other hand, calves cost less in winter. Depending on the cost of winter feed, this may be the best time to buy cattle for the following pasture season.
Working with calves requires a good deal of patience, as they are easily excited and stressed. Discuss a health programme with your vet.
The third responsibility of cattle farming management is to maintain disease-free breeds. Animals are not an exception to disease. They also suffer from numerous diseases. This may affect the health as well as productivity of animals; even cause their death. Parasites, bacteria, and viruses are the major villains here. These microbes infect the cattle externally as well as internally. Vaccination is the one solution for the protection against bacterial and viral infections.
Maintaining a healthy cattle herd is vital for strong, productive calves and heifers. In the first 30 days of a calf’s life, it’s crucial to watch their behavior for any diarrhea symptoms as these can lead to deadly calf scours. Sometimes you may experience some rare symptoms or diseases within your cattle herd. Iodine deficiencies are one of those rarities and the symptoms can be hard to determine. The mineral plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy thyroid in cattle.
Cattle produce a lot of waste. Although the manure may be used for land fertilization in some cases, you still must collect the manure and dispose of it in some way. This is an extremely dirty business, with manure carrying at least 40 diseases that can pass to humans, according to the National Resources Defense Council. Failure to handle manure properly can result in the contamination of ground water and people–including you–becoming sick. If this happens, the potential for a lawsuit is real.
Create a waste management and compost plan for cow manure. Manure is a great way to put nutrients back into your pastures. You’re going to have plenty of it, so you might as well find a use for it. Unfortunately, you can’t let the manure drop anywhere, because it has parasites that taints pastures. You have to shovel it into a box, then keep it warm, moist, and mixed for several month until it turns into a potent fertilizer. If you don’t wish to make your own compost, have a disposal plan for throwing away the manure.
You should always keep good records of finances, breeding, calving, vaccinations, purchases, sales and assets in your operation.
Financial records are the most important records, because these records determine whether your operation is giving you net income or loss. Hope you have learned a lot about how to start a cattle farm business. Best of luck!!