Feeding the Family: Beef

We can't work outside today due to the large amounts of rain we've been receiving. The sky has open up and it has been raining non-stop. The pond's dam and spillway has received lots of damage due to the fast water moving through it. We have a lot of work ahead of us in order to repair that pond.

Since we can't get outside chores done, we are planning our upcoming farm operations for the new year and how we will subsequently feed our family. Currently we have 5 head of cattle. We have 1 bull, 2 female cows, and 2 four month old male calves. We will castrate one of the calves and use it as beef to feed our family at about 18-20 months of age. Hopefully it will weigh about 900-1000 pounds at that time. The other bull calf will be sold either by word of mouth or it will be sold at the local cattle auction in either late spring or late summer depending on the condition of the calf and the condition of the pasture. We also have an older female cow that needs to be replaced. She has consistently been producing a calf every year, but she is getting rather quite old.

Some folks erroneously think since you have a pasture throw some cattle on it and you can raise cheap and easy to maintain cattle. I wish that was true, but lots go into maintaining and raising cattle. Tough fencing is a must to keep the cows from wondering into the country side as well as strong loading and squeeze chutes to get the cows to the market or to keep the cows still in order to provide much needed medical care.

One of the most important aspects to cattle raising is the forage available for grazing in the pasture, which obviously will have to be supplemented with hay in the winter. Also cows will need free access to clean water, a salt and mineral block, grain supplements, and protein supplements such as cattle cubes.

With so much thinking and working involved it seems it would be easier just to buy our beef from the store.Have you ever been to the cattle auction and seen what quality of cows the meat packers buy to turn into beef for human consumption? Have you ever been to a meat processing plant? After those two field trips you'll either become a vegetarian or raise your own cow to butcher.

Slaughtering and butchering your own cow is a learning process, but so is most self-sufficiency skills. You just need to do it as respectfully and as humanely as possible. Raising your own cow can guarantee quality beef on your table.


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