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First purchase for small herd - 3 in 1 OR 2 weaned heifers?

oakrunfarm

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Good morning.

We're in the last stages of planning for our first cattle purchase, and I have a few questions. This is such a great resource - especially for those of us just getting our feet wet!

We've got about 20 acres - 80% in good lush pasture, and the other 20% in woods and a small pond. I am wondering how many cattle per acre (Belted Galloways) if we are not planning on much grain supplementation. At this point, we are planning on no more than 4-6, but I wanted to make sure that is realistic.

75% of the fencing is very hefty new 4 board wood close to 5' tall with 1.5" to 1.75" x 6" boards on 4" x 4" square posts and 25% is no-climb Vee wire. Do we need a hot wire about midway down on the wood and on the top of the wire fencing?

We live in North Carolina, and so I am thinking we don't really need a shelter, but should be more concerned about keeping them cool enough (shade, etc.) Is that the case? (We can bring them into the horse barn in an emergency.) We have trees in all of the pastures.

We had originally decided to start with two recently-weaned heifer calves to gentle and halter-break since we have not had cattle before. (We have been breeding/showing Quarter horses for 20+ years.) BUT, someone else suggested a 3 in 1 package, and then we would not have to deal with a first-time calving, and getting one bred back right off the bat. Thoughts on this?

If we do decide we want to start out with a 3 in 1, is it possible to safely wean the calf if we do not have any other cattle? Do you think getting at least one other calf or cow to keep the weanling company would be a better choice?

Does it help to train them to go into the headgate/facility more readily if you give them a route through the open headgate and into an enclosed area where they are grained? (I am a little fuzzy on how to train them to get them to go where you want them to - especially in order to do vet work/AI/maintenance.)

I know these are a lot of questions, and any help at all is most appreciated.
Thanks! :D
 

jcarkie

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i would suggest older cows rather than heifers for your first time. if possible get 2 cows with calves 4-5 years old and bred back. heifers are alot of worry, save that for after you get a little experience.
 

LoveMoo11

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-As for acreage, it depends where you are, but it sounds like you have pretty good pastures like we do up here-and here the extension says 1-2 acres per cow and calf pair. Your fence sounds fine if it is 5 feet high-belties are pretty small. And since it sounds like they will have plenty of room they probably won't be looking to get out. You should always have a shelter of some sort as a windbreak even if you live in a nice climate. A three sided shelter would give you that and also offer some shade. I would start with the weaned heifers, but that is your choice. If you get them recently weaned, you will have plenty of time to work with them and learn the ropes before you have to breed and whatnot. Spend as much time with them as you can-friendly animals are a lot easier to work with. If you are going to go with a new calf that will be weaned you are going to have to separate it from its mother for a length of time and they will both need companions of some sort since they are herd based animals. As for working with the headgate-if the animals are calm it is a lot easier-but that means you need to work calmly and slowly, especially the first few times going in. Positive reinforcement like you mentioned with the grain never hurts either. Hope that helps and Good luck! :cboy:
 

Bez+

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I could go on for hours - search: Bez posts for newbies and cattle - probably a couple hundred out there - I am not a guru, but there is a lot of good info there.

Get your veterinarian lined up NOW!

You DO NOT -repeat - DO NOT want heifers.

You are too new in the game

Best regards

Bez+
 

oakrunfarm

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Thanks so much, everyone, for the input. I had a friend tell me weaned heifers were not such a good choice. I am assuming it is for the same kinds of reasons you would not want someone new to horses to get young ones for their first venture into it?

Bez, I will search for your posts. I was not sure what topic(s) I should search under when I first posted. I have looked at a lot of posts and it has already been a LOT of helpful info. (I am one of those people who researches everything to death. I don't want any more unwelcome surprises than necessary!) We do have our vet lined up, and he's also an AI specialist. That works well since we don't plan to ever have a bull.

So, right now I am leaning toward two 3 in 1's. The only thing that worries me about that is that there is my planned 6 cattle limit right off the bat! I don't like the idea of open cows with calves at side because I worry they could be culls that aborted or did not settle, and then I have to worry about getting them bred, and I don't want to do that first thing. Decisions decisions. :???:
 

bigbull338

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1st get you a corral set up.you do not want to turn new cattle loose in a new place right off.because they might jump the fences an get loose.2nd you do not want open heifers.because you cant breed them till 15 to 18 months.an calving heifers can be real rough for newbies.3rd you want 4 or 5yr old 3 in 1s.because you know they can breed back an raise a calf.4th your place could carry 10 cows 1 cow to 2acs.5th youd want to start out with 2 or 3 3 in 1s.an please do not buy junk cows you wont be happy with.6th youll have to learn how to watch for heats.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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You have gotten some good advice. Two 3 in 1 pairs is absolutely the best way to go. Since you are picking them with calves on side - You have 3 options:
1. Buy two cows with bull calves (preferable already STEERS). That way, you have two options with the calves - feed them out for yourself & sell freezer beef or sell one or both calves after they are weaned. That way, next spring you have two cows ready to calve and you can get them AI bred by your vet. Now, that is, if you are concerned about "growing" too quickly.
2. If you are looking to expand as quickly as possible, than you would look to buy cows with a heifer on side.
3. Buy 1 with a steer for you to finish out & put in your freezer, and buy 1 with a heifer to raise as a replacement.

And I would think 20 acres would sustain 4-6 cow/calf PAIRS.
If you have trees in each pasture, that is all they need for shade in the heat. And you said you have woods - that's all the protection they need in the winter. If, at the time your cows are calving, and you have bad weather, you said you have a horse barn you can use.
It sounds like you alread have a head gate facility?? That's wonderful - fencing & facilities :tiphat: hat's off to you.
If you have a way to let the cattle freely walk thru your facilities to get grain - that's fine. Yes, it would be much easier to get them into the headgate that way. But, in the normal cattle operation, cattle are just "herded' into a work facility. You will be small, so whatever works best for your situation.
If you purchase 2 cows, than you will have two calves to wean (for company).
 

Bez+

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oakrunfarm":opcel9i1 said:
Thanks so much, everyone, for the input. I had a friend tell me weaned heifers were not such a good choice. I am assuming it is for the same kinds of reasons you would not want someone new to horses to get young ones for their first venture into it?

Bez, I will search for your posts. I was not sure what topic(s) I should search under when I first posted. I have looked at a lot of posts and it has already been a LOT of helpful info. (I am one of those people who researches everything to death. I don't want any more unwelcome surprises than necessary!) We do have our vet lined up, and he's also an AI specialist. That works well since we don't plan to ever have a bull.

So, right now I am leaning toward two 3 in 1's. The only thing that worries me about that is that there is my planned 6 cattle limit right off the bat! I don't like the idea of open cows with calves at side because I worry they could be culls that aborted or did not settle, and then I have to worry about getting them bred, and I don't want to do that first thing. Decisions decisions. :???:

A 3 in 1 is a bred cow with a calf at side. (This info for others who might be newbies)

If you buy a cow calf pair you will need to breed. You got an AI guy - ask him about what you need to do - make him be specific!

Two 3 in 1's will give you 6 animals in the next few months. Who cares - you will sell two or maybe three.

As for culls - suggest you remember this.

Less than 5-10% of off spring are worth keeping for breeding - so plan on selling some asap after weaning.

You keep all your heifers and / or a bull - you are keeping a lot of flaws and perpetuating them in your own herd.

DO NOT - DO NOT - DO NOT fall in love with the cute calf - she is a frigging [email protected]@rd that will run you over in a heart beat should the mood take her. Her mother will be happy to do this for free as well and I guarantee she will run faster than you.

(You will find out - I promise!)

Your cow, yearling or bred heifer (stay away from these for at least a few years):

She is not pretty.

She is not tame.

She is not your friend.

She is not cute.

She is not delightful.

She is a half tonne or more of muscle that you can bang on with a 2X4 and still not hit as hard as they do each other when they fight - and they do - even the beaches we call females

She is mobile beef and nothing more.

You raise them to KILL them.

Nothing more.

Just make them as happy and comfortable as you can before you do this.

You keep this in mind and you can cull hard right from the start - and who cares about hitting 6 right away - it means some cash in your jeans to pay for things when you sell some.

Do not forget the DEAD animals you will have.

You got livestock, you will have deadstock.

Search: infrastucture, buyng a herd, three in one, cow calf pairs, fences, veterinarian, mentor, and other words you might think of - if you do not find me you will find someone else who is probably a lot smarter than me and a whole lot nicer to boot.

I do not own any cattle myself - I just do as my wife tells me and look after HER cattle - she is a brutal beach that will kill any animal on the line if she thinks she can make a dollar on it.

That is why I love her - you do the same and I will be proud of you.

Warning: If you have a calf with a cough or a sore leg or is down and not eating and come here for advice at your stage you need to evaluate whether or not you should own cows. Advice that conflicts - from 25 people - from all parts of North America does not equal one veterinarian on scene.

Have fun and ask questions - we may laugh at you - but you will get answers.

I remember starting - a lot of years ago - those cows look real big when they show up - and you ask - "What in the He!! have I done?!?!"

You will worry initially and then you will laugh at your experiences - share those so we can laugh with you - yes, and at you. We have all been there.

Best of luck and enjoy it.

Regards

Bez+
 

LoveMoo11

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Bez+":pijf0nd2 said:
DO NOT - DO NOT - DO NOT fall in love with the cute calf - she is a frigging [email protected]@rd that will run you over in a heart beat should the mood take her. Her mother will be happy to do this for free as well and I guarantee she will run faster than you.

(You will find out - I promise!)

Your cow, yearling or bred heifer (stay away from these for at least a few years):

She is not pretty.

She is not tame.

She is not your friend.

She is not cute.

She is not delightful.

She is a half tonne or more of muscle that you can bang on with a 2X4 and still not hit as hard as they do each other when they fight - and they do - even the beaches we call females

She is mobile beef and nothing more.

You raise them to KILL them.

Nothing more.

Just make them as happy and comfortable as you can before you do this.

You keep this in mind and you can cull hard right from the start - and who cares about hitting 6 right away - it means some cash in your jeans to pay for things when you sell some.

Do not forget the DEAD animals you will have.

You got livestock, you will have deadstock.

Search: infrastucture, buyng a herd, three in one, cow calf pairs, fences, veterinarian, mentor, and other words you might think of - if you do not find me you will find someone else who is probably a lot smarter than me and a whole lot nicer to boot.

I do not own any cattle myself - I just do as my wife tells me and look after HER cattle - she is a brutal beach that will kill any animal on the line if she thinks she can make a dollar on it.

That is why I love her - you do the same and I will be proud of you.

Warning: If you have a calf with a cough or a sore leg or is down and not eating and come here for advice at your stage you need to evaluate whether or not you should own cows. Advice that conflicts - from 25 people - from all parts of North America does not equal one veterinarian on scene.

Have fun and ask questions - we may laugh at you - but you will get answers.

I remember starting - a lot of years ago - those cows look real big when they show up - and you ask - "What in the He!! have I done?!?!"

You will worry initially and then you will laugh at your experiences - share those so we can laugh with you - yes, and at you. We have all been there.

Best of luck and enjoy it.

Regards

Bez+

Bez you are very cynical! Not all people feel that way about their animals. Where I am right now, I am not in the beef making business necessarily-I have brood cows and raise calves that I either keep or sell for . Most of my animals are friendly and half of them are halter trained. I don't trust them 100% but they aren't just beef machines to me, and I'm sure other people feel the same way. I enjoy them. But, I also realize this is a business and go with my brain over everything else when the question whether or not to sell an animal arises. It sounds like these people aren't exactly getting into it just for the business of making beef. There are a lot of ways to look at it!
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Bez - very good comments!!! Lighten up people.
We're talking to a newbie - we definately should not be telling them to make a pet out of their cattle. Sure - I can scatch the butt of most of my cattle. Sure, lots of my cattle are halter broke. And I LOVE THEM. But, bottom line - they are not PETS. And a newbie should be fair warned. Even if they are halter broke, they will NEVER NEVER be like a horse.
There may be some, but I don't think very many mares will try to grind you into the ground at calving time - but the sweetest, nicest, most halter broke cow MIGHT!
We're not trying to scare you - but you must be aware of these facts.
And, what he said about not falling in love with the calves. That's soooo hard not to do, but, a male should be considered walking beef for the freezer. A heifer, MAY be a replacement, but she also CAN be walking beef for the freezer.
 

oakrunfarm

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Wow. This is all such helpful input. I truly do welcome cynical and brutally-honest advice and suggestions. I don't want to have too many times where I say to myself, "Gee, I wish someone had told me that!" I like a person to tell it like it is, and I am not at all offended or scared off by hearing things that can and do go wrong. We need to know what we are getting into.

I hate to admit, because I am sure to some that it will diminish what it is we're doing, that this is really more of a "hobby farm" type of venture. We're serious stock owners, don't get me wrong, but I'd say we want to have cattle more for just having them around than to make money. That is one of the reasons for keeping it on a small scale. We're brutal about culling our horses that don't work out, and we would be the same about making sure our breeding stock cattle are top quality.

We've had broodmares that WILL go after you when they have a foal by their side that were previously-docile, so that does happen. I had a friend lose her husband when a mare he was trying to help foal was struggling, hit him, and he hit his head on a post. So, I do have a healthy dose of respect for any large animal.

Thank you ALL so much for all of this info. It is truly so appreciated.
 

Bez+

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LoveMoo11":2hdr0qkc said:
Bez+":2hdr0qkc said:
DO NOT - DO NOT - DO NOT fall in love with the cute calf - she is a frigging [email protected]@rd that will run you over in a heart beat should the mood take her. Her mother will be happy to do this for free as well and I guarantee she will run faster than you.

(You will find out - I promise!)

Your cow, yearling or bred heifer (stay away from these for at least a few years):

She is not pretty.

She is not tame.

She is not your friend.

She is not cute.

She is not delightful.

She is a half tonne or more of muscle that you can bang on with a 2X4 and still not hit as hard as they do each other when they fight - and they do - even the beaches we call females

She is mobile beef and nothing more.

You raise them to KILL them.

Nothing more.

Just make them as happy and comfortable as you can before you do this.

You keep this in mind and you can cull hard right from the start - and who cares about hitting 6 right away - it means some cash in your jeans to pay for things when you sell some.

Do not forget the DEAD animals you will have.

You got livestock, you will have deadstock.

Search: infrastucture, buyng a herd, three in one, cow calf pairs, fences, veterinarian, mentor, and other words you might think of - if you do not find me you will find someone else who is probably a lot smarter than me and a whole lot nicer to boot.

I do not own any cattle myself - I just do as my wife tells me and look after HER cattle - she is a brutal beach that will kill any animal on the line if she thinks she can make a dollar on it.

That is why I love her - you do the same and I will be proud of you.

Warning: If you have a calf with a cough or a sore leg or is down and not eating and come here for advice at your stage you need to evaluate whether or not you should own cows. Advice that conflicts - from 25 people - from all parts of North America does not equal one veterinarian on scene.

Have fun and ask questions - we may laugh at you - but you will get answers.

I remember starting - a lot of years ago - those cows look real big when they show up - and you ask - "What in the He!! have I done?!?!"

You will worry initially and then you will laugh at your experiences - share those so we can laugh with you - yes, and at you. We have all been there.

Best of luck and enjoy it.

Regards

Bez+

Bez you are very cynical! Not all people feel that way about their animals. Where I am right now, I am not in the beef making business necessarily-I have brood cows and raise calves that I either keep or sell for . Most of my animals are friendly and half of them are halter trained. I don't trust them 100% but they aren't just beef machines to me, and I'm sure other people feel the same way. I enjoy them. But, I also realize this is a business and go with my brain over everything else when the question whether or not to sell an animal arises. It sounds like these people aren't exactly getting into it just for the business of making beef. There are a lot of ways to look at it!

Realistic.

Seen this all before with newbies and no one tells it like it is - time someone did.

Making money or a hobby - every warning is a factual statement.

"So if by chance we meet it will be beautiful"

There ya' go.

Bez+
 

Bez+

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oakrunfarm":1wr4e16i said:
Wow. This is all such helpful input. I truly do welcome cynical and brutally-honest advice and suggestions. I don't want to have too many times where I say to myself, "Gee, I wish someone had told me that!"

........................ Big snip


Thank you ALL so much for all of this info. It is truly so appreciated.

Trust me you will say that a lot - I still do after a lot of years on the front line - you are welcome

Bez+
 

backhoeboogie

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This whole discussion has been hammered to death in the past. There is a lot of good advice in the forums that would answer a lot of questions and a lot of issues that are concerning you.

As Bez says, search. There will be issues that others have experienced that you may never experience. It is always best to be prepared.

Working facilities in place is the best start. I does not have to be an ideal set up but you do need a way to isolate. A medina gate or trap gate as some call it is pretty much a minimum. (others will argue that too and their opinions are of value)

A good mentor living in your proximity is ideal.
 

LazyARanch

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Bez+,

I appreciated your honesty and cynicism also!! I am also only used to working with horses and although I am well aware of what a mad HORSE can do, I haven't had any bad experiences yet with the cattle and I hope NOT to! I am a newbie to cows, calves and bulls and my husband keeps telling me he can't warn me ENOUGH about getting complacent around the herd. SO.... hearing it again from a voice of experience means a lot and I WILL remember. (Although they say PAIN is the best teacher, I am NOT anxious for that kind of lesson!!) :lol2:

so thank you all AGAIN for the wisdom and advice.

Vickie
 

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