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Country comparison - Finland

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Flying_Finn

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Hi all,

I'm also new here, and I wanted to hear how's beef cattle production different around the globe.

Here's some fact's about beef production on Finland:

Small farms, average 40 ha and about 30 or less cows (both dairy and suckler).
Costs are heavy because of long winter (housing, indoor-feeding, building). Nowadays most of beefs are grown in 3wall -barns, which are as cold as the air outside (can go down to -25 Celsius). Which is not a problem for the breeds we use here (Hereford, Angus, Limousin, Charolais, Simmental and Highland)

EU and Finnish agricultural policy has meant a very high amount of restrictions, regarding manure, for example, we can't spread it to the fields as much we want, or even as much as the plants would need it.

On the other hand, this environment-boom has meant more financial support for turning arable land, that's deep towards rivers, lakes or the sea to grassing land (don't know the word, but keeping cows inside fenced fields)

I'm only starting beef cow production, and I'm mostly interested in how you (especially in northern USA, CANADA, Great Britain with a bit similar conditions):

1. How you house your cows (or do you have to build anything, cubicles, sloped floor..?)
2. How much (per hectar for example) you have 'em
3. Which time of the year you prefer the cows to calve
4. Which breed you use and why
5. Pretty much everything around beeg cattle production

Thanks in advance!
 

Nesikep

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Lillooet, BC, Canada
hello, and welcome!

We have a farm in Lillooet BC, Canada, and the coldest we've ever seen is about -28C (2 days after we moved onto the farm, in december 1990), most winters it will be -22 for a week or two, and from dec 1st to feb 1st you hope it stays somewhere between -5 and -15, though it can rain too, which is the worst

Our farm is about 180 acres, 80 acres under cultivation, i think that translates to 80ha/30ha cultivated, the summers get hot, often up to 40C, and there isn't much rain where we are, though you can drive an hour and have about 10x the yearly rainfall.. we get about 250mm of rain on the average year

our farm has about 20 cows, and we have a vegetable operation as well, carrots, onions, squash, garlic and potatoes..

As for the cows, they don't have much shelter at all, but we notice they want about 25% more feed when it gets below -18C or so.. when we started, we had 12 herefords heifers bred to giant angus bulls, and lost 2 cows and 3 calves the first year due to the previous owners stupidity.. our first bull was a red angus, we kept him about 2 years, then we got a Saler who was a gorgeous bull, but the calves were wild, and they turned into pretty mean cows, which didn't suit us as a small operation.. I think we had the Saler bull for 5 or 6 years.. then we went with Shorthorn, and found it a pretty good cross to the saler.. the shorthorns are more docile, and finish early, while the Salers are super leggy and tend to be hard to fill out, so we got a nice bunch of cows now that grow well with a good frame, and still put a lot of meat on, Also, both have had some use as dairy breeds, which is good for the milk production, the shorthorns in particular.. we bought our second shorthorn bull this past spring and look forward to seeing his progeny, the last one we had gave us too many white calves, this new one should give us solid red calves, maybe with a little roan, which I don't mind at all.. if you look in the "Welcome" section, I have a thread there with a lot of pictures
 

bward

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Alberta, Canada
I am in Alberta Canada, and Welcome to Cattletoday. I really enjoy hearing how Producers in other parts of the World raise beef cattle.
Its -29 this morning and the wind chill last night was -41. Its not always this cold but we can have these temps for weeks at a time.
Our cattle live outdoors year round and they have a wind fence shelter with no roof. When its this cold we try to bed them daily or every second day with round bales of cereal straw. They are fed quite good quality hay which is rolled out on the ground, and are supplemented with solid lick tubs. They get water from a spring fed creek.
The breeds I have are mostly Santa Gertrudis with some Purebred Simmental cows and also some Santa Sim cross cows. The Santas keep their body condition better than the Simmentals through the winter but it may be partly due to the Simmental putting a little more into their calves. I have used Santa bulls for the last 23 years except last year when I ran low on bulls and bought an Angus cross. I saw him breed a few so we will see what he produces next spring.
Ranchers in Alberta are falling let and right with Dispersals of long term ranches that have had generations of families. The environmental barriers are coming to Canada making things more difficult to survive never mind thrive. Farm safety, regulations, water rights, premise ID, is only the tip of the iceberg that is soon to be enforced on us, making ranching soon to be, a millionaires hobby. We all are aware of the fact that our days are numbered, its just a matter of when to pull the plug. I plan to continue for now but its hard watching my neighbours sell out.
 

mobgrazer

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1. I mob graze. They have trees for shade. Once the nights get below 3C they strip graze and have a wind break. Most winters the temp moves around to much. Never gets below -5C for more then a night or two.
2. 1,100 arcs of cattle and hay. So 1 hectare = 100 arcs I think. Last few years we had about 570 breading heifers.
3. I like early fall. Just don’t cut the last round of hay and will have plenty of grass for all to eat.
4. Our cows are Red and Black Angus with a bit of Herefords all bred together.
5. Were “grass fed” beef but do sell heifers to smaller farms some years. We do grow out some bulls every year; we keep bulls for 6 years max.
 

SRBeef

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SW Wisconsin
Flying_Finn":2l64zvnk said:
Hi all,

I'm also new here, and I wanted to hear how's beef cattle production different around the globe.

Here's some fact's about beef production on Finland:

Small farms, average 40 ha and about 30 or less cows (both dairy and suckler).
Costs are heavy because of long winter (housing, indoor-feeding, building). Nowadays most of beefs are grown in 3wall -barns, which are as cold as the air outside (can go down to -25 Celsius). Which is not a problem for the breeds we use here (Hereford, Angus, Limousin, Charolais, Simmental and Highland)

EU and Finnish agricultural policy has meant a very high amount of restrictions, regarding manure, for example, we can't spread it to the fields as much we want, or even as much as the plants would need it.

On the other hand, this environment-boom has meant more financial support for turning arable land, that's deep towards rivers, lakes or the sea to grassing land (don't know the word, but keeping cows inside fenced fields)

I'm only starting beef cow production, and I'm mostly interested in how you (especially in northern USA, CANADA, Great Britain with a bit similar conditions):

1. How you house your cows (or do you have to build anything, cubicles, sloped floor..?)
2. How much (per hectar for example) you have 'em
3. Which time of the year you prefer the cows to calve
4. Which breed you use and why
5. Pretty much everything around beeg cattle production

Thanks in advance!

Welcome. I am new to cattle but sometimes new comer (3 seasons) information is useful as well as from experienced cattlemen.

I am in Wisconsin where winters can go to -25 or -30 degrees F. I have no housing and believe that the cattle stay healthier if they are outdoors year around. They do have woods and a draw (valley) to get out of the wind. Just keep good clean unfrozen water in front of them too.

As a good neighbor has taught me, especially in the north the natural time to calve is in the spring. The calves are born on new grass and the pastures are at maximum production when the calves start to require more milk from the cows. Castration is also over the summer when there are drier places in the pasture to heal, not laying in mud and manure.

Mine are all Hereford or Black Baldies (Hereford/Angus mix) although I am gradually shifting towards all pure Hereford.

I am still trying to find the maximum stocking rate and am trying to have one pair per acre. One of my goals is to find the maximum amount of beef I can raise per acre. I currently do this part time so I can experiment. However I am looking for a method that can produce a living profit from a small farm in my climate and soils and hills, other than the traditional dairy.

I rotationally graze but it still gets tight. Rotational grazing can really increase the stocking rate but there are times I need to feed hay in late summer. I purchase all hay in big round bales. We are in a good area for growing grass. The cattle cleanup many areas that would be waste or have to be mowed such as the back of my dam. I do not have the time or machinery or land to make a lot of hay.

I raise low-input strip tilled corn for my own use. Grazing harvested cornstalks produces a maximum of grazing and grain per acre, especially with strip tillage as a low input means of growing the corn. The corn is also used to finish the animals prior to slaughter. I may go to the old-time method of picking ear corn rather than combining the grain.

The corn seems like it can greatly reduce the amount of purchased hay required. I use good mineral supplement in lick barrels. Also salt blocks.

This year, as wet and cool as it was the corn did not dry as it usually does so I am carefully grazing the whole plants in one area of the field.

There are many cattle systems used in the US. This is just one way I am trying.

Good luck to you in Finland and have a good Christmas.
 

Nesikep

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with calving, if your season for raising them is long enough, it is nice to calf out when there is grass growing, but if not, go a couple months earlier so everything is frozen, there's nothing worse for than rain and mud.. .we usually calf out in march/early april, and usually have a straggler in may, we wean around canadian thanksgiving, so about 0ctober 20th
 

Willow Springs

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1. How you house your cows (or do you have to build anything, cubicles, sloped floor..?)
2. How much (per hectar for example) you have 'em
3. Which time of the year you prefer the cows to calve
4. Which breed you use and why
5. Pretty much everything around beeg cattle production

I live north of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We can get pretty cold. Every winter we seem to get at least a week of really cold weather; -40 to -50 degrees celcius; which is pretty much equivalent in farhenheit. The coldest weather always seems to come near the end of January. But more normal weather is -10 to -25; December through March. Here's my answers to your question.

1. Most beef cattle in our part of the world are never housed in barns. Cattleman calving in the colder winter months may put a cow in the barn for a day ot two to calve and then the pair would go back outside; so they spend up to 365 days/year outsdie. Most will also have some sort of wind protection and a few open faced sheds.

Our cold weather is a belssing in some ways; we are able to keep our cattle in the pastures because they are frozen and winter moisture comes in the form of snow. By doing this we don't have to haul manure in the spring, get a better distribution of nutrients and less nitrogen loss. There are places in the world where the winter brings rain and destroyed pastures when they are left out.

2.We run about 100 pairs on 300 acres (120 hectares??). We pasture from approximately May 20th to November 1st, but when I can find more grazing land reasonably close I have pastured to the end of December. We buy our forage (hay & straw) which is usually very abundant and cost effective compared to doing it ourselves.

3.I prefer to calve my cows in May; the weather is warm enough that I don't have to check cows at night or keep them in a barn near calving and the calves are still big enough to do well on the grass when it comes. I have found that our late June calves don't use the grass as well as the quality starts to wain in early August and September. We have had fewer calving problems and haven't treated a calf for anything since we started calving in the pasture. The cows stay cleaner and the calves do as well becasue they are not all sleeping in the same spot. We used to start in early February, but found that too time consuming and costly. In a system where you have to keep the cattle in-doors anyway there still might be some health advantages to calving on the pasture.

I do agree with the fellow from B.C. though. I would rather calve on frozen ground in February than in the mud and wet of late March and early April. By then our February calves would be big enough to look after themselves and stay dry and clean. We also have a tendency to get very wet, cold snow in late march and April. But nothing beats calving them in the pasture!

4.I have had experience with a lot of breeds and would say that from the most complete sense Angus (red or black) are the best cows. They milk well, have good udders, are good mothers (but not usually too mean to people), are easy to work with, have good feet, have a good blend of marbling with meat yield, have the most complete set of EPD tools on which to base selection, etc, etc.
Having said that there are good and bad in every breed and you should buy from reputable breeders (not always the ones with the biggest ads and most champions) that have programs similar to your own.

Also keep in mind that I said Angus are the best cows; if you are a suckler herd strictly producing calves for beed production (as apposed to seed stock) then a terminal cross sire should be used to acheive hy-brid vigour. Something like Blonde d'Aquitaine, Limousin or Charolais. These breeds will also increase growth, lean meat yield and feed efficiency. In North America these breeds are relatively easy calving now and can be used on mature Angus cows without problems; not sure about Europe.

If you really wanted to increase hybrid vigour you could try using cross bred cows as well; pretty hard to beat a balck or red baldy (Angus, Hereford cross). This will increase the productivity of the cow and usually increase longevity and fertility as well. I know in some European countries most heard are straight bred, but in our North American system this leaves a lot of money on table (unless you are a seedstock producer).
 

rockridgecattle

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Hi, I am from Manitoba Canada
Our animals only see the inside of a barn 1 or 2 days out of the year when they calve. And that is only if they have problems or it is brutal cold.
Our winters usually see snow on the ground before halloween and it leaves sometime in April with a good drop of snow again in May.
Our temperatures in the winter hover around -20 but in January we see alot of -30 and colder with the windchills dropping it to -45 or 50. We bed and feed the cows heavier then. The cows have the bedding in the heavy bush which allows them relief from the winter winds.
We calve in March and April to get it overwith before the mud comes. We keep a short tight calving season and vaccinate pre breeding. Sometimes the weather co-operates in March and sometimes we get cold snaps into the -30's again. And yes that is Celcius.

We put the cattle on pasture about June 1. This gives the pasture time to grow. They then need to be feed starting end of September early October, depending on the rains in the summer.

We are feeling the effects of regualtions on manure spreading as well as dugouts for cattle. They are imposing more regualtions all the time. We have a manditory ID program that takes in the whole country. You can not ship, buy or sell cows without the ID eartag. We now have regulations on how to dispose of animals that die on your farm. We used to kill our own cow here on farm and take it to the butchers to hang. Now that can not be done without a permit and specific blue die for carcass movement.
Our farm is 10 quaters of land. Each quarter is 1/2 mile by a 1/2 mile. Half of the land is bush the other half is pasture and hayland. We have wild and tame hay that we harvest to feed our cows. We did have 100 cows but this year down sized by half due to the market and the lack of hay from way way too much rain. The market $ did not match the cost to buy and ship hay. So this calving season will seem like a breeze...maybe. Farming is becoming harder and tougher here. Alot of young farmers are getting out and the oldtimers have had enough.
But, having said that we love cows and could not see doing anything else.
Oh and to answer your breed question, we are angus X beef producers
 

Nesikep

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i think this is a great imfornational thread for everyone, just to see how everyone else does things...

Seems like no one likes mud!
 

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