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Vanner

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Being new to cattle, I'm interested in raising some beef for my own freezer, but not sure what breed would be good for quality beef. I've been told that Black Angus or Polled Herefords would be a good choice, but also looking at alternatives. I have raising and grazing resources for both. Living in Virginia, I'm not sure about the weather impact on these two. Also, what should I expect to pay for a calf and how long before I can start the BBQ?
Thank you for your suggestions.
 

Frankie

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Vanner":1m9r81hi said:
Being new to cattle, I'm interested in raising some beef for my own freezer, but not sure what breed would be good for quality beef. I've been told that Black Angus or Polled Herefords would be a good choice, but also looking at alternatives. I have raising and grazing resources for both. Living in Virginia, I'm not sure about the weather impact on these two. Also, what should I expect to pay for a calf and how long before I can start the BBQ?
Thank you for your suggestions.

I raise Angus, so I'd suggest one of those. :) Either breed should do ok in your climate. Cost and time are related to the size and age of the calf. You can buy a weaned one 4-500 lbs and have the BBQ a bit later than if you buy a 8-900 lb yearling. The smaller one might be cheaper, but you'll have feed costs to get him to slaughter weight. Take time to Google. Search for "finishing beef" or "growing your own beef". Your extension office might also have some sources.
 

Vanner

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Thank you for your response and suggestions! I've also been told that Charlais Steers are a good choice for quality beef. Any difference in raising these as opposed to the other two? Or other factors to consider? Diseases, fat content, etc. Given the ideal situation, how long from weaned calf to BBQ (rough time frame) and at what weight? Please excuse my ignorance and thank you for your help.
 

Howdyjabo

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If I was looking to buy a calf to put in my freezer-- I would put an order in with an order buyer to pick me up some odd balls that go cheap but look good. For example around here Belted Galloway's sell dirt cheap- they are terrible in a commercial setting- but kept on a farm they make great meat.
And there are several other hobby breeds that sell cheap but make great meat.
 

Brandonm22

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Vanner":1fimgbfi said:
Thank you for your response and suggestions! I've also been told that Charlais Steers are a good choice for quality beef. Any difference in raising these as opposed to the other two? Or other factors to consider? Diseases, fat content, etc. Given the ideal situation, how long from weaned calf to BBQ (rough time frame) and at what weight? Please excuse my ignorance and thank you for your help.

There is more variation within the major breeds than there is between the breeds, though typically the Char will grow faster but finish at a higher weight. Your other questions, I can't answer. Growth rate is directly related to how much groceries the animal is getting from you (in available grass and hay and fed grain) and finish weight basically is decided by you in how fat you want your calves. If I were doing it, I would buy 500 lb calves and shoot for a 1250 lb kill weight, turn them out on good all they can eat grass, keep a roll bale and trace mineral blocks out there at all times for them, and give them EACH 6 lbs a day EVERY day of 16% steer feed so that they are gaining 2.5 lbs a day. At that rate it will take 300 days for your barbecue. If you want to eat quicker than that buy heavier calves, feed them more grain, and/or kill them at a lighter weight.
 

Frankie

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Vanner":312qfh8y said:
Thank you for your response and suggestions! I've also been told that Charlais Steers are a good choice for quality beef. Any difference in raising these as opposed to the other two? Or other factors to consider? Diseases, fat content, etc. Given the ideal situation, how long from weaned calf to BBQ (rough time frame) and at what weight? Please excuse my ignorance and thank you for your help.

You should understand that within every breed there are bloodlines that vary, but first you need to define "qualaity beef". Marbled, lean? Keep in mind that marbled beef tends to be more tender than leaner beef. Leaner breeds, Chars and Limousin come to mind, will usually have lower fat content, but higher yield (meat to bone) ratio. Yet, being larger animals, they may require more feed to get "finished". Commercially, steers are killed around 1100 lbs. So if you buy a 600 lb calf, you'll need to put 500 lbs on it. If he gains 3 lbs per day on feed: 500 x 3 = 150 days on feed. But not every animal gains 3 lbs and various feeds provide different nurtrional value. Some gain more than 3 lbs. But since it's for your own use, you can slaughter him at whatever weight you want. Steers gain faster than heifers; heifers tend to have more marbling. How the beef is handled after slaughter is important, too. Hanging it for several weeks will help with tnederness, but you lose some pounds. Feed conversion rates vary between animals. You're probably going to need to buy at least 5-6 lbs of feed for every lb of gain.

Buy your calf from a reputable source and you shouldn't have to worry about diseases.
 

bigbull338

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all calves make good beef.i dont care what breed they are.the way a calf grows is in its genetics an how much feed an hay it consumes along with grass.if the calf is wild an highstrung the meat could be dark.you want a calm easy going calf.an you want to feed them good.
 

Alan

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You have gotten some very good advice so far, I'll just throw in my two cents. For quaitity meat you need to prep the calf to produce quaility meat, as stated; work the calf up to 10 or so lbs of grain per day for a 60 to 90 day period (start him on 2 or 3 lbs and increase slowly to 10 or so lbs), free choice hay or grass, free choice minerals and haven't seen this mention is a good worming program, keep in mind withdrawl times (the time you have to wait after your give the steer/heifer the shot/pour on wormer to slaughter). Have the steer/heifer in an area that will allow an easy, quick, no stress kill. You lose meat quaility if the animal is stressed and spooked at or during the kill.... in other words you don't want 3 rounds with a 30-06 at 150 yards on the run :? :D . Mine are in a holding pen for two or three weeks before slaughter, one 22 mag in the head, 20 feet.

That was one cent, here's my other. Since you'll be raising and dealing with cattle before slaughter you should know what the cattle are like before you buy any. Meaning temperment, the pros and cons to horns, pasture habits (ie; fence leaners, escape artist, high strung ect.). Keep in mind every breed has its great, easy to handle animals and every breed has it "bad apples". Some breeds just have more bad apples than other breeds. For example; I raise Polled Herefords, my last slaughter animal started out being a Hereford heifer about 14 months old. I planned to feed her up for another 4 or 5 months and put her in the freezer... she wouldn't stop going through fences. None of my other Herefords go through fences, I believe most Hereford don't. So I put her in a pen I made with panels, not too small... within 15 minutes she went under a panel and through 3 fences. Fixed the fences, reinforced the panels with t-post and caught up the heifer for round 2. Within 15 minutes she was over a panel (crushing a $100 panel) and through another fence. Caught her up... again, this time she did not get out of the trailer until we hit the sale yard, I brought back another steer that I just put in my freezer.... she was a "bad apple", every breed has them.

Don't get me wrong I chose Polled Herefords for their temperment and good pasture habits, mine are very docile and I'm always very comfortable walking in the middle of the herd as well as dealing with new borns with mom looking on very close. I'm not going to pick on any other breeds but some breeds won't let you do that, they have more bad apples. I love Polled Herefords.

JMO,
Alan
 

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I'm not sure whether you are wanting to have a cow-calf-bull operation and raise some for yourself, or whether you are just wanting to buy in a calf, grow it out and fatten it and then eat it. I guess it depends on how much space you have and also what your interests are.

If you are wanting a cow-calf-bull operation, best choice to get is some good poll hereford cows - older type cows 5,6 years even 8 and 10 year old cows you can get cheaper than young ones, and they know how to do their job and you will get several more calves out of them if you look after them. Mostly they are a good docile breed for people to start off with.

Having a poll hereford cow base gives you flexibility: you can then get an angus bull to mate with them, and produce black baldies, which not only taste great but sell well. The heifers make good mommas so either keep them in your herd or sell them as commercial breeders. Or you can go with a red angus bull and get some red baldies - they sell really well here. If you are wanting a bit more bulk to the calves you could use a limo - either black or apricot - and get really well muscled, lean black or red baldies. A charolais on the hereford cows would give you yellow baldies - which dont do as well through the sale yards here but from what I hear there are some places at which they do really well. Smokey calves sell really well here - not sure what you would get if you put a charolais bull over a black baldie cow - might get a whiteface smokey - which I think would be a helluva calf. If reds sell well in your area you can always put a shorty over your hereford cows - get red mottle faced calves - might sacrifice a bit of muscle unless you find the right bull, but they make great females. Or hey, you could get a brahman bull and produce tigerstripe calves, the impression I get is that they are pretty popular in the US. Brangus bull would give you black baldies again, but with a bit of indicus influence.

See what I mean? Lots of options with a hereford cow base, and at least here anyway, hereford cows are generally slightly cheaper and much higher quality than black cows.
 

SRBeef

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Vanner":znt9cvle said:
Being new to cattle, I'm interested in raising some beef for my own freezer, but not sure what breed would be good for quality beef. I've been told that Black Angus or Polled Herefords would be a good choice, but also looking at alternatives. I have raising and grazing resources for both. Living in Virginia, I'm not sure about the weather impact on these two. Also, what should I expect to pay for a calf and how long before I can start the BBQ?
Thank you for your suggestions.

You say you have "raising and grazing resources" for both. But you say you are looking for some beef for your own freezer.

If you are really getting into this for some beef for your own freezer, you may, in the end, be much better off finding a local farmer who raises freezer beef and buying a whole or half from him rather than trying to raise one yourself. For one thing, cattle are herd animals and you really need more than one. They need to be cared for, safely, and then, usually, finished. You need good fences, water and some way to confine them if needed occasionally.

If you are just looking for beef for yourself, I think you will come out far ahead by finding a good local source then purchasing beef from them, maybe on the rail at the processor, depending on how much beef you will really use. A 1100 lb steer with a .6 hanging wt and a .6 cutting rate will still leave you with about 400 lb or more of beef in your freezer. That is a LOT of beef for one family. You will probably come out ahead cost wise on purchased beef also.

Best of luck to you.
 

Vanner

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Thank you all very much! Your advice is well taken and has given me alot to think about. The different scenarios have given me a whole new perspective on this whole idea! Does this mean that if I decide to go through with this, that I owe everybody a steak dinner? Thanks again for your time and input!
 

Vanner

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Howdyjabo":12ys05pj said:
If I was looking to buy a calf to put in my freezer-- I would put an order in with an order buyer to pick me up some odd balls that go cheap but look good. For example around here Belted Galloway's sell dirt cheap- they are terrible in a commercial setting- but kept on a farm they make great meat.
And there are several other hobby breeds that sell cheap but make great meat.
Thanks for the advice! It's well taken.
 

Vanner

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SRBeef":2a33swna said:
Vanner":2a33swna said:
Being new to cattle, I'm interested in raising some beef for my own freezer, but not sure what breed would be good for quality beef. I've been told that Black Angus or Polled Herefords would be a good choice, but also looking at alternatives. I have raising and grazing resources for both. Living in Virginia, I'm not sure about the weather impact on these two. Also, what should I expect to pay for a calf and how long before I can start the BBQ?
Thank you for your suggestions.

You say you have "raising and grazing resources" for both. But you say you are looking for some beef for your own freezer.

If you are really getting into this for some beef for your own freezer, you may, in the end, be much better off finding a local farmer who raises freezer beef and buying a whole or half from him rather than trying to raise one yourself. For one thing, cattle are herd animals and you really need more than one. They need to be cared for, safely, and then, usually, finished. You need good fences, water and some way to confine them if needed occasionally.

If you are just looking for beef for yourself, I think you will come out far ahead by finding a good local source then purchasing beef from them, maybe on the rail at the processor, depending on how much beef you will really use. A 1100 lb steer with a .6 hanging wt and a .6 cutting rate will still leave you with about 400 lb or more of beef in your freezer. That is a LOT of beef for one family. You will probably come out ahead cost wise on purchased beef also.

Best of luck to you.
The steer would be herded with 4-5 herefords. Would that be appropriate? I also like the idea of finding a local meat source. The cost factor of his mark-up as opposed the the feed cost would probably out weigh itself. My only hesitation is, I'm taking their word for it that it was properly cared for and the quality is there. Thank you for the advice. A suggestion definitely worth the thought.
 

Vanner

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Alan":1etv78lf said:
You have gotten some very good advice so far, I'll just throw in my two cents. For quaitity meat you need to prep the calf to produce quaility meat, as stated; work the calf up to 10 or so lbs of grain per day for a 60 to 90 day period (start him on 2 or 3 lbs and increase slowly to 10 or so lbs), free choice hay or grass, free choice minerals and haven't seen this mention is a good worming program, keep in mind withdrawl times (the time you have to wait after your give the steer/heifer the shot/pour on wormer to slaughter). Have the steer/heifer in an area that will allow an easy, quick, no stress kill. You lose meat quaility if the animal is stressed and spooked at or during the kill.... in other words you don't want 3 rounds with a 30-06 at 150 yards on the run :? :D . Mine are in a holding pen for two or three weeks before slaughter, one 22 mag in the head, 20 feet.

That was one cent, here's my other. Since you'll be raising and dealing with cattle before slaughter you should know what the cattle are like before you buy any. Meaning temperment, the pros and cons to horns, pasture habits (ie; fence leaners, escape artist, high strung ect.). Keep in mind every breed has its great, easy to handle animals and every breed has it "bad apples". Some breeds just have more bad apples than other breeds. For example; I raise Polled Herefords, my last slaughter animal started out being a Hereford heifer about 14 months old. I planned to feed her up for another 4 or 5 months and put her in the freezer... she wouldn't stop going through fences. None of my other Herefords go through fences, I believe most Hereford don't. So I put her in a pen I made with panels, not too small... within 15 minutes she went under a panel and through 3 fences. Fixed the fences, reinforced the panels with t-post and caught up the heifer for round 2. Within 15 minutes she was over a panel (crushing a $100 panel) and through another fence. Caught her up... again, this time she did not get out of the trailer until we hit the sale yard, I brought back another steer that I just put in my freezer.... she was a "bad apple", every breed has them.

Don't get me wrong I chose Polled Herefords for their temperment and good pasture habits, mine are very docile and I'm always very comfortable walking in the middle of the herd as well as dealing with new borns with mom looking on very close. I'm not going to pick on any other breeds but some breeds won't let you do that, they have more bad apples. I love Polled Herefords.

JMO,
Alan

Thank you for the advice! That's worth alot more than 2 cents to me! I think I probably owe you change actually! Sounds like your friend probably wound up in someone elses freezer! With a particular 'cow' like that being some what high strung, does that do anything to the meat quality?
 

Vanner

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Frankie":34o0thqv said:
Vanner":34o0thqv said:
Thank you for your response and suggestions! I've also been told that Charlais Steers are a good choice for quality beef. Any difference in raising these as opposed to the other two? Or other factors to consider? Diseases, fat content, etc. Given the ideal situation, how long from weaned calf to BBQ (rough time frame) and at what weight? Please excuse my ignorance and thank you for your help.

You should understand that within every breed there are bloodlines that vary, but first you need to define "qualaity beef". Marbled, lean? Keep in mind that marbled beef tends to be more tender than leaner beef. Leaner breeds, Chars and Limousin come to mind, will usually have lower fat content, but higher yield (meat to bone) ratio. Yet, being larger animals, they may require more feed to get "finished". Commercially, steers are killed around 1100 lbs. So if you buy a 600 lb calf, you'll need to put 500 lbs on it. If he gains 3 lbs per day on feed: 500 x 3 = 150 days on feed. But not every animal gains 3 lbs and various feeds provide different nurtrional value. Some gain more than 3 lbs. But since it's for your own use, you can slaughter him at whatever weight you want. Steers gain faster than heifers; heifers tend to have more marbling. How the beef is handled after slaughter is important, too. Hanging it for several weeks will help with tnederness, but you lose some pounds. Feed conversion rates vary between animals. You're probably going to need to buy at least 5-6 lbs of feed for every lb of gain.

Buy your calf from a reputable source and you shouldn't have to worry about diseases.

You brought up an interesting point about "quality". Actually, haven't given it too much thought. I guess I would have to tilt more towards the 'marbling' as isn't that where you get the best flavor? It wouldn't do much good to have 'leaner' just because you wind up with more meat and little flavor. Maybe I should consider getting one of each?! Sounds like I may be getting in over my head! Thank you for the advice!!
 

Vanner

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bigbull338":wxd5z0x3 said:
all calves make good beef.i dont care what breed they are.the way a calf grows is in its genetics an how much feed an hay it consumes along with grass.if the calf is wild an highstrung the meat could be dark.you want a calm easy going calf.an you want to feed them good.

Thank you very much! I'll definitly keep that in mind!
 

Vanner

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Howdyjabo":1v8pgmh5 said:
If I was looking to buy a calf to put in my freezer-- I would put an order in with an order buyer to pick me up some odd balls that go cheap but look good. For example around here Belted Galloway's sell dirt cheap- they are terrible in a commercial setting- but kept on a farm they make great meat.
And there are several other hobby breeds that sell cheap but make great meat.

Thank you for your input! I don't know if they have any 'Belted Galloways' around here or not. Do they not grow as fast for commercial use making them less profitable? By killing them at less than the ideal weight, does that sacrifice the meat quality, as opposed to more or less fat content? Does that question make sense!? Thanks again!
 

IluvABbeef

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The meat quality from an animal that is one of those "bad apples" comes through as a dark cutter, or the meat is a darker shade of red and tougher than that from an animal that is more of a docile disposition. And it's mainly to do with adrenaline running through the animal's system during times when it is handled when it gets loaded to go to the slaughter house and right before it gets slaughtered.

Marbling is I guess more centered on the basis of tenderness of a beef cut, not so much the flavour. The flavour primarily comes from what the animal has eaten, for instance the difference between corn-fed beef and barley-fed beef, or between general grain-fed beef and grass-fed beef. And actually, the leaner the meat, the more flavourful it is...just like that of wild meat from moose or deer, it's got more flavour since it tends to be leaner. Now I'm not too sure about the correlation between leanness and taste, but it makes sense to me that way.
 

IluvABbeef

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Vanner":8wdikugy said:
Thank you for your response and suggestions! I've also been told that Charlais Steers are a good choice for quality beef. Any difference in raising these as opposed to the other two? Or other factors to consider? Diseases, fat content, etc. Given the ideal situation, how long from weaned calf to BBQ (rough time frame) and at what weight? Please excuse my ignorance and thank you for your help.

Like Brandomn22 and Frankie said, the main difference between continentals (Charolais, Simmental, Limousin, etc.) and British breeds (Angus, Shorthorn, Hereford, etc.) is the degree of fatness due to maturity stages. Continentals tend to mature later, but wean at higher weights than British breeds, thus can be put into a feedlot soon after they're weaned to increase in size and marbling. If a British breed weaner were to follow the same regime for the Continentals, you'd get an overly fat steer that ends up giving you more fat than meat. That's why backgrounding exists, so that these lower weaning weight, earlier maturing breeds can grow up and put on muscle at a slower pace until they are "ready" to be put on a hot diet. This is where crossbreeds work great. A crossbred between a British breed and a Continental (AngusXSimmental, HerefordXCharolais, or even a three-way: Angus/Hereford cross X Charolias or Simmental or other variations) gives you both the marbling quality of the British breeds and the amount of meat you'll get on a carcass.

Temperment is one of those qualities that are important for getting great beef off a steer intended for slaughter. Like I said, high-strung, deer-in-the-headlights type of feeders are the dark cutters, the ones that grade a lower quality carcass. Making sure they are up-to-date on ther vaccinations help too, as well as the quality of the feed they are given, including supplement with loose mineral.
 

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