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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We are cattle farmers and we hold back 2 steers each fall when we take our calves to market. We feed grain and hay all winter because they need the feed for energy to stay warm. It takes about 90 days to really feed out a good steer. They also do much better if there are 2 because they are in competition for the feed. We keep them in a feed lot so that they don’t run off the feed that we give them. 🙂
Yes, this home grown meat is so good. We can hardly eat store bought meat anymore.
Great post and wonderful to encourage folks to raise their own if they can.
Thanks Joyful for the great information! We had thought about raising two but that is more meat than we can use. We have our steer in the same pasture as our alpacas and we are going to see how that works out. If we have to separate them we may have to get another one to pasture with him.
We have two calves right now. They are about 2 months old now. Your absolutely right with the bottle feeding. What kind of calve do you have. Ours are jersey bull. I love raising our own meat. There is such freedom being self sufficient. God Bless Tracy.
Beth ours is a Jersey bull as well. There is a real satisfaction from knowing we are can take care of our self and we don’t have to reply on the grocery store as much!
We don’t have room for big animals but I wish we did. Organic meat is insanely expensive.
I know it is costly to buy organic meat. Have you looked into buying a 1/2 a processed beef from a local farmer?
We have the space and the mouths to feed so I am trying to talk my husband into letting us get a couple. I think he may be ready by next Fall.
I am very excited to be raising our own meat. I love being able to provide food in all aspects for our family.
We have been breeding our own cattle to butcher now for a few years. We have a highland bull and dairy cows. The dairy cows we milk and then we usually butcher the calves. We do this ourselves with a friend helping us (he has the big mincer). We are about to do one in a week before Christmas and this will keep us going for a couple of months. We buy in 2 new dairy cows a year from a dairy farmer friend close by. We get them at about 1 weeks old and feed them for a few months and then join and milk them. Thanks for your great post it is always great to hear how other people do things. thanks for linking up at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings
Thanks Terri…I love sharing how we do things on our homestead and as you always love to read how others to the same thing. We love raising our own meat and feel really good about being able to provide for our family.
You don’t mention how much the cost is to feed the cow. I’m looking into the same idea as we have 5 acres available to raise a cow. But I’d like to know the cost of hay, feed and vets. Any thoughts?
Most of the year our cows are grass fed. In the winter we supplement with hay ($5 per bale) and they average 1/2 bale each a day, plus we give them an all-stock feed that costs $10 for a 50# bag. They average 5# a day during the winter months. We have very short winters here in SC and only have to supplement their grass for about 4 months.