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warped04

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Hey guys,

There's a wealth of knowledge among these forums, and I'd like to lean on it a bit. I've been hanging around long enough to know that y'all will ask more questions in regards to my situation that I may not have the answers to yet, as I'm not a concrete set of plans type of guy. I feel that I need to be flexible, with the overall goal in sight.

So just a touch of background. I'm moving from Southern Cali to Northern Idaho. We are moving onto currently 20 acres, but I maybe able to expand and additional 20 (and there's plenty of vacant land around me to expand at a later date). From my local co-op, I've found a pasture mix that doesn't need irrigation. Our family friend in So Cal, has a couple of cows, and has our steer (to feed my family). He direct markets beef locally. I'm not looking into cows as a full time gig, as I have a job already. I'm not in it to make a million dollars, but I'm hoping to direct market and at least show a small profit. I've worked on his property to "earn my keep" as I'm just in the steer for the steer cost and hay cost, so I'm not ignorant, but I'm no expert.

So I need to start my own herd (it's a lifestyle choice. I think this country needs to slow down the pace, and I want to teach it to my kids) And I've found that the ranchers selling their heifers want $2000/hd, where a similar heifer at the treasure valley auction goes around $145/cwt on the high side. I also understand you get what you pay for, but I'm just starting out. I'm looking to pick up 6 head or 6 pairs this fall, hay them through the winter (hay is pretty cheap up here) or 6 head/pairs next spring, while I get the pasture ready.

I maybe asking you guys to compare apples to oranges here, but to start a "hobby herd" am I off base trying to look at the sale barn instead of the ranchers? I know y'all are those ranchers, so that's why I come to you.
 

dun

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Buying cows at the salebarn for breeding isn;t for rookies.
 

M-5

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get to know a couple of small farmers in your area people like yourself that run 50 head or less. Most of these folks don't direct market and use a sale barn or private sell to other like minded individuals each year. They will should have a few heifers to sell every year and you should be able to get them bought for just a touch over sale barn prices. with this you establish a relationship that you can lean on for advise and he can lean on you if he needs some type of labor or specialty your job affords. I had a young guy contact me last year for a couple of heifers, sold him 2 that I would have kept for replacements he wants to buy a couple more this year but does not know when he will have his money together. If he has a question about anything he will call me and im glad to help.
 
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warped04

warped04

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That's what I'd like to do M-5, but I think most that have cattle in this state are further south. I guess I need to keep my ear to the ground and see if there are people around. I'll probably have to get into Washington a bit.
 
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warped04

warped04

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dieselbeef":133ivfdz said:
does it snow at both locations? where yer from and where yer going?

No snow from where I've from, but this year we had 100" of snow where I'm going (usual 36"). I know y'all had a drought, but we got the water we've desperately needed. I witnessed the snow, I've been living in a hotel since December.
 
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warped04

warped04

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HDRider":rkzlco1e said:
Your thinking. That's a good start...

:lol: I've been around the block enough :D. We are just excited to have the possibility of being debt free and out of crazy California (no offense to those that are left).
 

Rafter S

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warped04":1b48u36n said:
HDRider":1b48u36n said:
Your thinking. That's a good start...

:lol: I've been around the block enough :D. We are just excited to have the possibility of being debt free and out of crazy California (no offense to those that are left).

I wouldn't worry about offending Californians. The ones that would mind you saying they're crazy are only proving that you're right. :wave:
 

Son of Butch

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warped04":1zxmvn79 said:
Hey guys,
I'm moving from Southern Cali to Northern Idaho.
Our family friend in So Cal, has a couple of cows, and has our steer (to feed my family).

So I need to start my own herd and... ranchers selling their heifers want $2000/hd,
where a similar heifer at the treasure valley auction goes around $145/cwt on the high side.
I'm looking to pick up 6 head or 6 pairs this fall, hay them through the winter (hay is pretty cheap up here)
or 6 head/pairs next spring, while I get the pasture ready.

... to start a "hobby herd" am I off base trying to look at the sale barn instead of the ranchers?
No, you are not off base.
Although you might be comparing 650-700 lb feeder heifers at 1.42 = $950/hd ($923 - $994)
to some ranchers who are way too proud of their 700 lb purebred replacement heifers and asking $2000

I'd suggest that a rookie should shy away from buying open heifers and instead buy 3 in 1 cows to start out.
(3 in 1 = Bred cow with calf at her side)
You may want to pay a cattle buyer commission and enlist his help in selecting 3 in ones at the sale barn.

All the Best to you and yours.... way up there on Ruby Ridge :)
 

backhoeboogie

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You are buying hamburger, steak, roast from the store?

The best way to "get started" and be in the black is to raise your own freezer beef. Get a steer, feed it out, and put it in your freezer. There is a learning curve there for you and you get experience. Your cost savings is notable and you get the best beef for your money.

Next year buy 3 steers and sell two of them to friends. Find four friends to buy 1/2 a beef. Let them deal with the processor but haul the steer to the processor for them.
 

farmerjan

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Have to agree that the better way to get started is to buy some feeders, raise them up, sell halves on a couple and mostly your beef will be "free", in your freezer. Right now the cow/calf business is at best a break even, and at worst a losing proposition. Not counting the headaches and problems with trying to get some bred and calving. To realize a bit of a return on your place, the feeders will be a little bit of an easier learning curve, take less time to get to kill size, and still give you a slow down type of lifestyle and teach the kids responsibility. Plus, once you get some real-life DAILY experience, then you could look for something like cow/calf pairs. I would get 4 or 6 steers, get them raised up to kill size and sell a couple of halves, then get say 4 more steers and maybe 2 cow/calf pairs. WHATEVER you do DO NOT START with heifers. Get a couple of cows, maybe at a dispersal sale, that KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. This is experience telling you. Get your feet wet with a couple of cows that can calve and take care of their babies. You can still have problems but they will hopefully be "easy" problems. Once you get a couple of years and calving seasons under your belt, then if you want to go to heifers, well, at least you know what to expect if everything goes as planned.

I am not trying to discourage you and I agree that raising your own beef and making a little is a good and reasonable goal. Most of us aren't in it to make a fortune, but lately it would be nice to just make it even out. But when I kill a beef and have a freezer full of beef then I know it is worth it just to know where my meat has come from and the taste is far beyond the stuff in the store.
Don't burden yourself with cows and calvings right off the bat. Realize that you have conception, then 9 months pregnant, then 7-9 months to weaning, then another 12-18 months feeding, before you get a beef in the freezer. So 2 1/2 to 3 years from start to finish. Not counting having to get that cow bred back when her calf is 2-4 months old so she will again calve in 12 months to continue the cycle. A feeder in the 500-600 lb size will finish out in 12-18 months more, and the hard part of getting that calf on the ground and going, is done. That is why I said do a couple of years of feeders then add a couple cows as well as continue the feeders.

Most of us figure that it takes a minimum of 3 years to pay for a cow with the value of her off spring....that is no dead calves, breeding back and calving every 12 months, everything going right. That's break even, then she might start to make a little money, if calves are bringing a minimum of $5-600 per head at weaning. If you are running some feeders, they are a little less likely to die or get sick as a baby calf can do, they will be ready to eat and start gaining weight, they won't have trouble calving or prolapse or get mastitis or refuse to mother and feed their new calf.....
Feeders aren't fool-proof...but the odds are a little more in your favor for "fewer" problems.
 

greybeard

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WHATEVER you do DO NOT START with heifers.
Aww c'mon..what's the fun in that?
Everyone that wants to be a cowman should do it at least once... :lol2: :lol2: :cry2:
 

dieselbeef

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ca to id is a big change in itself. you also have no connections in the industry and no background...or exp in that state.....
 
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warped04

warped04

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Thank you all so much for taking the time to share your knowledge. I respect all of your opinions, I don't find it discouraging, I find it enlightening.

Son of Butch":39bq2a6z said:
No, you are not off base.
Although you might be comparing 650-700 lb feeder heifers at 1.42 = $950/hd ($923 - $994)
to some ranchers who are way too proud of their 700 lb purebred replacement heifers and asking $2000

I'd suggest that a rookie should shy away from buying open heifers and instead buy 3 in 1 cows to start out.
(3 in 1 = Bred cow with calf at her side)
You may want to pay a cattle buyer commission and enlist his help in selecting 3 in ones at the sale barn.

All the Best to you and yours.... way up there on Ruby Ridge :)

I think you are right about me comparing feeder heifers to purebred replacement heifers. I think I just need to go visiting sometime, and really get to know the ranchers (obviously calling first), as M-5 suggested.

And a little souther, there's a sub base nearby ;-)

backhoeboogie":39bq2a6z said:
You are buying hamburger, steak, roast from the store?

The best way to "get started" and be in the black is to raise your own freezer beef. Get a steer, feed it out, and put it in your freezer. There is a learning curve there for you and you get experience. Your cost savings is notable and you get the best beef for your money.

Next year buy 3 steers and sell two of them to friends. Find four friends to buy 1/2 a beef. Let them deal with the processor but haul the steer to the processor for them.

Been doing that at a family members place. His name is Sweet Baby Ray, and we got him so the kids wouldn't think all animals are pets. My 5 year old actually made me promise not to take a bite out of him without her. He should be ready to process in the next month or two (splitting him with my cousin).

I do like the 3 steer idea though. It might be the "smart" way to go, but sometimes the urge to go for it, and the impatience of "that's one more year of not growing a herd" gets to me.

farmerjan":39bq2a6z said:
...I am not trying to discourage you and I agree that raising your own beef and making a little is a good and reasonable goal...

I don't feel that way at all, and I'm honored for the thought that goes into all the advice. All of my knowledge is from family where he did start with just heifers. He/We just had a decent calving season (lost one heifer out of 5). I think diving in on a small scale puts more skin in the game. I don't know how you feel about that.

Also, a disbursment would put me out of state for sure. The reason I like the treasure valley is I can get there, and I've been watching it for a long time. I maybe new at treasure valley, but out of state I'll be a carp on the side of the road. In the family's herd, I was the one to recognize one of the heifers had been bred, and to monitor her in 21 days to see if she went back into heat (When I'm there, I spend all my time with the cattle. The bull comes up to me and eats out of my hand). So I don't feel like a total newbie, but compared to y'all........

dieselbeef":39bq2a6z said:
ca to id is a big change in itself. you also have no connections in the industry and no background...or exp in that state.....

Yup, You are very correct. Although a side note, people actually don't believe I'm from California, or thought I moved when very young.

greybeard":39bq2a6z said:
WHATEVER you do DO NOT START with heifers.
Aww c'mon..what's the fun in that?
Everyone that wants to be a cowman should do it at least once... :lol2: :lol2: :cry2:

More skin in the game right :hide:

Thank you everyone. I'm not on a deadline to start, and I appreciate everyone taking their time to give advice. I have researched a vet in the area that will do farm visits / ai, has calving ease semen in house
 

dieselbeef

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when yer dealing with 6 ft of snow and sub zero temps it wont matter what people believe..only what you can manage
 

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