• October 19, 2021

Things You Need To Know About Raising Cows

For most homesteaders and small farmers, cows are usually white, or black and white large livestock, always thought about, but they seem out-of-reach.

Many cows are bigger physically than any other type of livestock which is why they need more infrastructure and space than other animals such as goats and sheep. Even the mini cows are an expensive financial investment concerning maintenance and the upfront cost. Before you go into the article I would recommend you see automated milking.

1. Cows Are Raised For Milk, Meat, Or To Breed With So You Can Sell The Offspring

You should know what you plan to use your cows for before deciding to buy one.

Cows are a significant investment when it comes to resources, time, and money. Knowing what you want to use a cow or cows for on your homestead or farm is essential to ensure you are using this type of investment wisely.

Colt Knight, a state livestock specialist from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension states that that the first thing you need to ask is why are you raising a cow? This will make a significant difference when it comes to the type of infrastructure and land needed.

Cows are usually raised for milk and meat, either for sale or personal use. Calves are also usually sold every year to bring in extra cash flow.

Ashley Robbins, field crops and livestock agent for Chatham County, from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension says that before buying a cow you need to define your goals.

2. Rasing Cows For Milk On A Small Scale Will Be Costly

Cows generally start milk production at the age of 2 once they have a baby for the first time. Once the cow has given its colostrum or first milk to her calf, only then will you be able to start milking her.

Robbins says, that a cow must first have a calf before it will start producing milk. Provided you carry on milking them, they will continue producing milk. You can generally milk a cow for around 2 years before she will dry up (without having another calf).

Selling the milk can prove to be difficult due to the regulations and rules that govern dairy production.

Knight emphasises that small-scale dairy farms are not profitable.

Some of the states, 13 in total, which includes Pennsylvania, California, and Maine allow farmers to sell their raw milk to retail stores, while 17 of the other states allow farms that produce raw milk to sell their products from their farms. 8 other states only allow raw milk sales through “cow-share agreements”, where the farmers that own cows are paid for boarding, milking, and feeding their cows.

3. If You Plan To Raise Cows For Meat, You Need To Know Where You Plan To Process The Meat

Many homesteaders and farmers buy a cow to bring up for homegrown, fresh beef. However, butchering a cow is relatively complicated and also required specific tools and a skill set. For this reason, you need to work out how you plan to process your meat.

When raising cows for meat, Robbin states that cows that are grass-fed are usually ready for slaughter around 28 to 30 months, while the cows that are grain-fed are usually ready for slaughter by 15 to 16 months.

If you plan to keep the cow for your own use in your freezer, buy a heifer or stocker between 600 and 700 pounds, says Knight. The cow will put on weight throughout the summer, and by the fall you can take the cow to a meat processor where they can cut the animal up into portions for you.

Knight goes on to explain that if you planning to keep the beef for your consumption, custom slaughter facilities are fine. But if you plan to sell the beef, the facility has to be federally or state-inspected depending on if you want to sell across the border or in-state.