There are many small farmers who dream about raising cows. However, various reasons prevent them from making this dream come true.
Generally speaking, cows are big animals. Not only does this mean that they are more expensive to purchase, but also they need more space and more complex infrastructure. These are the main reasons why the dream of raising cows seems so difficult to achieve.
1. You can raise cows for beef, milk or sell their offspring. You need to decide what you want to do before you actually buy your first cow ever.
A cow is an expensive purchase. Also, raising it requires money, time and various other resources. In order to make the most out of your investment, you should consider planning ahead by deciding upfront upon the ultimate goal of your enterprise.
Livestock specialists advise that you ask yourself why you want to purchase that cow in the first place. This will make a difference on your future expenses, as well as on the infrastructure and the type of land you’ll need.
You can raise cows for milk and meat, either to sell products or to eat them with your family. You can also sell calves to earn a bit more money.
All these sound good, but you should take the word of specialists for it and decide what your goals are before you buy your cows.
2. Raising cows on a small scale solely for milk can’t be profitable.
In order for a cow to give you milk, it needs to have its first baby. This won’t happen before two years, so you’ll have to feed and care for your livestock until this moment comes. Next, you’ll enjoy her milk production for about two years before she’ll need to have another calf.
Selling the milk can also be a challenge, as this sector is strictly regulated by the state. According to specialists, all these make a small-scale dairy too costly to be worth it.
What would you do if you weren’t allowed to sell raw milk in retail stores? Even selling it directly on your premises may be subject to various regulations that could make your life difficult.
If you are going to be having cows for milking then you should see ‘parallel milking parlour’.
3. Raising cows for beef poses the huge problem of processing the meat.
Many homesteaders and small farmers buy and raise a cow to enjoy the delicious homegrown beef. While there’s nothing wrong with that, slaughtering that cow can be a real challenge. The process of butchering a cow is complicated and it requires special skills and tools you may not have. This means you need to find someone to help you process your beef. Don’t purchase any cow until you sort out this issue above anything else.
Also, keep in mind that a grass-fed cow will be ready to slaughter at 28 to 30 months, while a grains-fed one will only require 15 to 16 months to be ready to eat.
For personal use, specialists advise that you buy a 600-700 pounds heifer, keep it during the summer and take it to the meat processor in the fall to have it butchered. This solution would allow you to avoid waiting for such a long time until you can eat that meat. It is also a cost-effective way to enjoy fresh beef all year round.
If the meat is for personal use only, you can use any custom slaughter you wish. However, if you intend to sell the meat, you may have to process it in a state-inspected and approved facility. Always ensure you know the laws before taking such an important (and pricey) step.