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Raising a steer for meat


plain jane
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Friends of ours have land and we may have the opportunity to purchase a steer and keep it on their land so we can raise it for meat (for our family, not for resale).  They are newbies too and I am just starting to look into this so I thought I would ask here as I am sure there are families here with experience.

 

So- what all can you tell a total newbie to this?  What is involved with raising a calf to slaughter- how much land does one need to have enough food (not land use restrictions) for a couple steers (one for our family- one for theirs).  Do you purchase hay or is the grass in the pasture enough?  Can animals be bought during different times of the year or only certain times?  How many years before the "meat" is ready and the steer can be slaughtered?  What else is involved?  What are the "hidden" costs?

 

Ok. Laugh away.  I'm so green about this but I am eager to learn.  Please point me in the right direction.  With a large family and multiple food allergies, having a chance to get some quality free range beef at a reasonable price is enticing.

 

TIA

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Friends of ours have land and we may have the opportunity to purchase a steer and keep it on their land so we can raise it for meat (for our family, not for resale).  They are newbies too and I am just starting to look into this so I thought I would ask here as I am sure there are families here with experience.

 

So- what all can you tell a total newbie to this?  What is involved with raising a calf to slaughter- how much land does one need to have enough food (not land use restrictions) for a couple steers (one for our family- one for theirs).  Depends on how well the grass grows. In our area, you need one acre per cow. Contact the Agricultural extension service to advice that is custom to your area. Do you purchase hay or is the grass in the pasture enough?Depends on how well the grass grows. We sometimes put out a little hay in the hot part of summer to help them out. Can animals be bought during different times of the year or only certain times? Most often you can get weaned calves in fall (spring calves) or spring (fall calves) However, you can probably get one any time of year. Just start looking at craigslist ads to start getting an idea for how much it will cost. How many years before the "meat" is ready and the steer can be slaughtered? For adult size, probably 18months to 2 years, depending on breed. you can butcher early. some people prefer "baby beef." when a yearling is butchered.   What else is involved?  What are the "hidden" costs? veterinary. worming, vaccines, butchering fees.

 

Ok. Laugh away.  I'm so green about this but I am eager to learn.  Please point me in the right direction.  With a large family and multiple food allergies, having a chance to get some quality free range beef at a reasonable price is enticing.

 

TIA

 

Please contact your Ag agent. He can answer these questions much more accutrately

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Agreeing with PP.  If you don't have pasture year round, you will need feed/hay for over winter.  Get in contact with your Extension office or a local large animal vet. 

 

ETA...you need a freezer large enough to hold a finished steer.  That will depend on what breed you buy, genectics, if you truly wait to slaughter until it is finished, etc. 

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My father has had beef cows all my life. You can slaughter an approximately 8 month old calf for enough meat to meet the beef needs of a family of 4 for a year or more. My father now buys calves in the late summer after they can leave their mothers, fattens them on hay over the winter/spring, and sells in the summer. As for vet fees, I have never seen a vet on my dad's farm. He loses calves occasionally (rarely). I'm not sure if he vaccinates them either. He does worm them. You do need a large (chest of stand up ) freezer. There is a cost associated with slaughtering a calf, but when you calculate costs, remember that you will pay a flat rate for processing per pound regardless of the cut of meat--you'll pay the same for ground beef that you will for filet. In my most recent experience, it averaged $3-$4 a pound--not too bad!

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Agreeing with the PPs.  If you can run them on good pasture, that is best.  If you have to supplement a lot or overwinter feed, it gets expensive, and if your goal is money saving, that cuts into it a lot.  Also, figure in some vet costs -- at the very least for worming meds -- and definitely get some local, professional advice.  It is different in different areas, but someone local will know the land, conditions, etc that will affect your necessary decisions.  FWIW, we rarely overwinter.  It's too expensive in our killer long winters and gains us nothing in the long run.  We usually buy Hereford fall calves and slaughter as late in the fall as possible.

 

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Remember, you guys could each take half a cow at butcher time.  So, you don't need freezer space for a whole cow.  

 

My folks used to buy half a cow at butcher time.  They named the cuts that they could easily use, and had the rest ground up into ground beef since that is what is most frequently used.  

 

I have a friend that discovered she was allergic to the icky stuff that is given to cows and ends up in beef.  She decided to just give up beef, but they also considered doing something like this.  

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Check the fences on your friend's property, you really don't want to be running over to chase T-bone back in all the time.

 

I'd recommend buying it in spring so that you can maximize your usage of pasture vs. hay. Quite honestly butchering it early (as in, buy it in the spring, keep until you run out of pasture) will work fine and probably give plenty of meat. 

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