Starting to raise a calf in November is the perfect time of the year! We bought a 12 week old bull calf that is bottle broke and is now eating grain and hay.
Why did we choose a 12 week old rather than a 2 day old? Once we sat down and looked at the cost of milk replacer it was less expensive for us to buy a 12 week old calf.
If you have taken notice to the rising cost of beef, you will understand our desire to raise our own beef. Living on a farm we are fortunate enough to have room to raise a steer and the ability and desire to take care of him until he old enough to butcher. As with everything else here on the farm we thought long and hard about the costs involved, and the time it would take to raise a steer to butcher weight.
Knowing our growing season and calculating the cost of hay and grain we determined late fall would be the perfect time to raise a calf. Since he is still little the feed and hay cost will be a minimum over this first winter. Over this first winter, we will supplement his hay with a calf grower feed. From April until late November he will be able to pasture graze so there will be no need to buy hay or grain during most of his growing season. We will only be raising him until he is 18 months old and will only have to over-winter him this year. Come fall of next year, and 60 days prior to butchering, we will add grain back into his diet to help add some additional fat to his overall body weight.
We also determined fall would be the perfect time to raise a bull calf since he will need to be castrated and dehorned. Both of those things can be taken care of over this first winter and before flying season starts. Castration is important at an early age to prevent him from becoming rambunctious, and dehorning is more for our safety than anything else. Since this calf has been bottle fed, he is already used to human contact so dehorning will prevent him for getting too friendly and becoming dangerous to us.
Here is a list of the few things we had in place before we brought home our bull calf:
- Fencing – We fenced in 2 acres with 4 foot high woven fencing.
- Shelter – A dry 20×20 area of the barn that provides both shelter and an eating area.
- Research – We found a reliable local farm that specializes in raising bottle calves.
- Transportation – We borrowed a cattle trailer from a neighbor.
- Feed – Stocked calf grower, dry clean hay, and setup a steady supply of fresh clean water.
There is something very satisfying in knowing we have a big part in providing and producing the food we consume.
Do you raise any meat animals?
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