Building A Herd From Scratch

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ABrauny

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Talk to Mike Keeney, he is an Angus guy in Kentucky and if you want black baldies you can put a Victor Domino bull over the top. I have a Victor Domino Bull, he is very nice. May providence be in your camp.
 

AllForage

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I don't want to pee in anyone's cereal this morning BUT,

Who or what got you so riled up with baldies? Yes they can be good cows, but a lot of em don't work out either. You have so many challenges ahead that this is pretty insignificant. I guarantee you will change your mind a few times over the next 10 years if you last that long. Profit should be your concern and color or breed does not have a ton to do with that. Reducing hay to a minimum with mig grazing should be the number one concern. All the baldies in the world can't help if one is bleeding money. With a small herd I suggest targeting a niche market like freezer beef, grass fed, or breeding stock. Personally I think small farms are better off staying purebred. Producing your own replacements and getting a handle on what your farm needs for a type. I did not see that asked anywhere. Just what type of animal will fit into your management and feed resources in order to make the most economical sense. Then use a terminal on bottom half or when you don't want to keep any heifers for a year or two. Not all crossbreds live up to expectations and obviously neither do purebreds.

I personally think breed literature is laughable. They all claim to produce prime beef off thistles in no time at all. Maybe visit some real operations.
 

Engler

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You said that you have access to a 50 acre pasture and a 25 acre one, are either of these at the home place? How far apart are they from one and other? I ask because if they are across the fence or road from one and other then you can almost manage them as one unit. However if they are more than a stones throw then you either will have to run 2 herds or have a bunch of trucking. Neither of which is a huge problem, but may have some effect on input from others.

How long is hay feeding season in a "normal" year? What is stocking rate in a "normal" year in your area? Do you have access to any corn stalk ground or other crop waste that you could buy some time not feeding during the late fall/early winter? I ask to try and see what a reasonable number of cows long term is, I believe you said shooting for 50?

What is your market? Salebarn, direct to consumers, plant direct? Selling feeders or fats? I know you said that the majority of the cattle in your area are black and you are thinking going baldies, are you set on herfxangus, or would a simx be something to consider?

I know a bunch of people have given advice of getting your stuff together before getting cattle in, and I agree 100% percent with that. Our vet came out and told us that they have the 2 rates for doing farm work-the prefered rate for the people that have good facilities, have the stock up and ready to go and not always looking over their shoulder waiting for somebody to eat their lunch. Then there is the rate for the other end of the scale. A little more cash up fron can save you money, time, headache and backache down the road. Additionally, rotational grazing is amazing if done correctly and even half way it will give you bang for the buck.

If you could find an outfit that sells all their 10 year old cows and dip into them it might be the thing to do. They should have some life in them. If they've made it that far, they know the drill and should be lower BS than heifers. Look at the WOW thread, there is usually a reason that a pretty 4 year old cow is at the sale barn, she's someone else's problem, no need bringing that in to start.
 
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Jabes0623

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Allforage you raise some good points, many I've considered (I looked very hard at grass fed Galloway cattle & finishing them myself to sell direct) however in the end I don't believe I have enough land or time to run that type of operatio. I hope your not always this negative lol, purebred don't always work & neither do crossbreeds? Obviously. I do intend to raise 2 herds, 1 purebred for replacements & 1 terminal.

I don't want to get in to the entire thing but ground will soon be broken on a $30 million beef processing plant about 30 mins drive from my land. I have it on good authority that the local beef production doesn't currently produce enough cattle to fill the need so I intend to help with that problem.

I do have a rotational grazing plan, however I'm certain like any plan it won't survive first contact so I'll be changing it as I learn & grow. As for hay, well I don't even have cows yet so it's a little difficult to come up with a plan on how to minimize it's consumption. Since at the moment none is being consumed I'd say I'm doing great:)!

If you have a suggestion other than Baldie's I'm all ears.
 
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Jabes0623

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Engler, the parcels of land are roughly 2 miles apart & I do not live on either. As I stated above I do intend to run 2 herds one purebred for replacements & one terminal.

Hay feeding season, should last about 4 months Dec-Mar, however it's unlikely hay will be to much of an issue for us in any year short of a drought. We own 53 acres that we can cut for hay if needed which should be more than sufficient for our herd, I only intend to cut 30 of it for hay starting out though.

Stocking rate, that one seems to get you as many answers as what breed. Some say they run 15 cows on 25 acres. Some say 10 yearlings per acre, some say 3 acres per head. It's crazy. My plan is to start small & grow I to my property, I'm going to assume 2 acres per cow is fairly reasonable.

In terms of marketing, I'd like to remain as flexible as possible. I don't ever want to box myself into one way of thinking. I'll do whatever will make me the most $ that year.

Facilities wise I have some work to do, but I'd say as of now ours are nicer than most I see around here. I still need to build a corral, head gate, & loading chute. But all in all I'd say I'm a-ok there, I wouldn't venture into this enterprise without the resources to give me a chance to succeed. I do still need to find a large animal vet in my area.

Lastly to your breed question, no I'm not set on anything yet. That's the main reason I joined this forum. I'm really struggling deciding on what breed(s) to raise. I have considered Sim x Angus, as a matter of fact The Ohio State University extension center cattle farm is only about 5 miles from where I live & that's what they raise. But asking cow people what breed is like asking car people what make, everyone has a favorite & there's no way you're going to get a consensus. Just have to listen to everyone's take & try to make the best decision I can.
 

jasonleonard

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Jabes0623.... I am near zip code 26525.... If I can help you in any way let me know. I run commercial cow-calf here and also run some stockers.
My crossbred 4 wt steer calves brought $3.10 a lb here 2 weeks ago. They went to Oklahoma to a wheat grazer.
If I was starting out, I would buy cows at a retirement liquidation. Go a day ahead of the sale and ask the oldtimer which cows raised the best calves. If you are gonna be a commercial operation, it is about lbs on the scales.
 
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Jabes0623

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jasonleonard":38ts54wd said:
Jabes0623.... I am near zip code 26525.... If I can help you in any way let me know. I run commercial cow-calf here and also run some stockers.
My crossbred 4 wt steer calves brought $3.10 a lb here 2 weeks ago. They went to Oklahoma to a wheat grazer.
If I was starting out, I would buy cows at a retirement liquidation. Go a day ahead of the sale and ask the oldtimer which cows raised the best calves. If you are gonna be a commercial operation, it is about lbs on the scales.

I appreciate that, I'm sure I'll be taking you up on that offer at some point.

Those must have been some fine steers. What cross did you use, if you don't mind my asking.

I like the idea of buying directly from the farmer who owned the cattle but I've never heard of a retirement liquidation in my area, I guess the old timers live forever around here lol. Retirement would probably be the only way someone would let go of their best cows so I'll definitely dig a little deeper on that.
 

HOSS

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jabes, I like your approach. You are thinking it through. There are many avenues to take and there is no 100% sure fire way to do it. Whatever route, breed or cross you choose if you focus on quality to start yu are way ahead of the game. Good luck to you.
 

Fire Sweep Ranch

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:) Ill put a shameless plug in for our breed, Simmental, which can come in a baldie form too! :nod:

There are a bunch of breeders in your area, and if you are looking at pounds across the scale nothing beats a good Simmi or SimAngus cross. The breed is popular now for a reason; they gain great, are good milkers, docile and fertile. Most of my bulls pass a semen evaluation before they are 12 months!
Just a thought, since you are not set on any one breed but seem to like the black with a bald face.

Oh, and we started from scratch also. Just raw land and two purebred cows, and we have come a long way! We still have those two cows we started with, and a bunch more!
 
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Jabes0623

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Fire Sweep, Sims are definitely on my short list for my foundation cows. There's a whole lot to like about the breed. Obviously I want to take advantage of hybrid vigor & I can't forsee any scenario in which simmental don't play some role in our farms future. I had envisioned using a nice sim bull as my terminal sire over black Baldie cows. But there probably isn't a scenario I haven't envisioned lol, been considering doing this for quite awhile.
 
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Jabes0623

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So I got in touch with the Hereford Association, they are having a sale Dec 13 in Hillsboro OH. I'm going to attend & if I see something I like I may go ahead & buy then.

So to all you Hereford owners out there what specifically should I look for? I'll be taking my Brother in laws Father with me who has raised cows for 60 years but ultimately this is my decision so I want to have as much knowledge as I can so don't spare the details.
 

ChrisB

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I wouldn't get too caught up on the 'quality' part. I'm not saying to buy poor cows, but average to above average cows will be more profitable in my opinion. Since it sounds like you are planning on selling finished cattle I don't think you will ever recoup the difference between a $3500 cow and a $2000 cow. I finish all my calves out and the calves from my poorer cows sell for just as much money as my better cows. There is a bigger difference between a poor cow and an average cow than there is between an average cow and a great cow.

Selling feeder cattle is a lot different than selling fat cattle. Packers don't care if that calf's mother had a perfect topline, udder, or won a blue ribbon at the fair. Again, I'm not saying to buy problem cows. Buy good solid cows of any of the popular breeds or crosses of them. Spend a little more money on A.I. or a bull. The biggest variable you will have in how profitable you are is going to be how many calves you can market per cow exposed.

I have cows in my herd I am downright embarrassed to have in the pasture. But as long as they breed back and raise calves that are average to above average in my herd they will stick around. I would never say that I have great cows but I think I have a lot of profitable cows.
 

CML205

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Best advice in this thread is that beef is sold by the pound so remember that when starting out. Growing the biggest and best quality calf should be your aim. My opinion would be to buy some 3-5 year old good quality black cows, they are easier to find but won't be cheap. If you are planning on being in the cattle business long term they will pay for themselves eventually. I also would recommend a good horned hereford bull and grow your baldie herd from there. Just my 2 cents good luck!
 

WalnutCrest

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A few things ...

* The best decision we made in the first year of operation was buying a group of seven older cows (7yrs to 10yrs old) who were in their last trimester from a long-time breeder with a great reputation. They shot their calves out with no problems (despite the blizzard half of them were born in) and raised them all up to weaning. It's LOTS cheaper to learn on lesser expensive cattle than to learn on elite cattle.

* Once you have what you think is a reasonable handle on what you're doing (ranging from stockmanship to grazing to breeding ... etc ...), upgrade your cows ... sell / eat your oldies and plow the $$ into proven cows who are 3-5yrs of age with the best genetics you can find (and, who are proven in-calf, ideally with sexed heifer embryos in route). Ideally, every cow you get in this group will have had her 2nd calf before her 3rd birthday. In a perfect world, you will be able to get through two or three calving seasons before you have to figure out a way to coax a calf out of a heifer that doesn't want to let go. The increased confidence around your cattle will help this eventuality go as smoothly as it can go (which, sometimes isn't that smoothly). Also, by buying bred cows, you can take your time to learn about genetics, breeding, etc. and to find the people who have the genetics you think you want --- it takes time to do the research and the networking to actually locate the best of what you want.

* Fertility is the most important thing in your operation (roughly, research indicates its 10x more important than growth, and growth is 5x more important than carcass traits, when determining the profitability of a commercial operation). Fertility is a function of body condition. Smaller frame cows can stay in better condition in a rough environment (drought, etc.) than lanky cows.

* Cattle come with four rough measurements ... length, height, width and depth. All else being equal (temperament, price, genetics, etc.), I'd prefer long bodied, short-legged, wide and deep-gutted cattle over some of the frame-chaser cattle others prefer. To wit, I drove past a place close to me a couple of weeks ago and wondered why the owner had decided to put a horse out with all of his cattle ... only to take a second look and realize that the animal in question was no horse.

* Ask lots of questions and make your own decisions. I looked at black and red angus, galloway, tuli, senepol, south poll, limousin, and hereford before picking our direction.

* Travel around and see what other people are doing in terms of management, genetics, marketing, etc. There are some seriously smart and creative people out there. While one guy may have a very different bent than you, by knowing them, when you come across a problem that is right up their alley, they'll be more inclined to pitch-in to give you the benefit of their years of expertise and insight.

* Enthusiasm is required. As is patience.

* The best cattle in the worst breed (whatever that might be) are better than the average cattle in the best breed (whatever that might be).

* Understand the genetics behind how animals get fat (leptin, calpain, etc.) and research whether or not you think the butterfat and protein content of the cows you're looking at will impact the quality of the calves (I, personally, believe that understanding the kappa casein, beta casein and beta lactoglobulin genotype of your cattle will save you years of 'fixing' cattle that are poor doers).

I'm sure there is more ... but ... start small and start cheap ... learning on experienced cows that you couldn't screw up if you tried is a much better idea than trying to (say) learn on a group of high-dollar heifers.
 

tnwalkingred

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I started out about 2 years ago and now have both registered and commercial cattle. The registered are merely a hobby right now but I really enjoy the genetic side of things. The commercial cattle are in a business plan and hopefully will continue to make a little money along the way. I choose to run high quality registered black Angus bulls for two reasons. I have registered black Angus cows and after they get one round of AI they are then turned in with a cleanup bull. Black Angus bulls are by far the most common in my area and very easy to find high quality animals are a reasonable price. I really like black baldie cattle as well so I would also recommend buying some Hereford cattle. Around here they are cheaper than solid black cattle but harder to find. Remember you're selling calves not cows so if you put a homozygous black bull on them you will always get black calves. I too would try and buy the best cows I could afford. Then go and buy the best bull you can afford and retain heifers. In a few years you have a nice herd of black bladie cows that you can then cross with another breed of bull to maximize the hybrid vigor. Good luck to you.

KW
 
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