Would you like to buy a cow or calf for your family’s needs or are you thinking of buying a full blown herd operation? It all starts with your first purchase!
You can find good cattle sources for purchase of either registered and crossbred in your own region. It is best to buy from long time successful cattlemen or women or from reputable breeders if you’re planning on raising a purebred herd. Cattle are usually offered as breeding animals (the best of the year’s calves) or as feeder calves.
Most farmers will be happy to offer advice and assistance (or at the very least recommend some good books or associations) when you want to buy a cow and this is your first foray into raising cattle. If you are alone or have never raised a cow or steer though your best bet will be to buy a good, young, and bred cow that has already calved at least once in her lifetime. Buying a bred heifer (a female cow that has yet to birth a calf) could result in trouble if you don’t have an experienced assistant on hand for that first birth.
Small Farm Strategies To Buy A Cow or Calf
If instead you choose to buy a heifer and then find a bull to breed her to, look for that first bull to be small or one that is known to throw small calves.
If you opt to buy calves, keep them in a confined area that allows you time to easily observe (and possibly bond with) them for two weeks or longer. This also prevents the spread of disease to other animals you may already have on your farm. Be sure your calves have plenty of fresh water and feed at all times. Schedule a veterinarian visit and work with that veterinarian to develop a health and vaccination program.
When it is time to breed the heifers you’ve purchased, keep it controlled rather than allowing the bull to run with the heifers or cows. If you settle for a month (up to two months) of a breeding season you will have a manageable calving season (less stress and worry), as well as a uniform set of calves to sell when the time comes.
If you are selling more than two calves at the same time, calves of similar breeding and size sold together will usually bring more money from the buyers.
Cattle have a 283 days gestation period so if you’ve selected breeding dates then your cattle will calve at the best time of year for your climate and growing season.
Should you be purchasing more than a few cows or calves for a full-out herd operation, be sure to get one good bull for every 20-25 cows you purchase. If you don’t want to own, house, manage a bull, consider leasing or borrowing one for the breeding season.
A final but viable option is artificial insemination. If you use this method you’ll need to consult with a knowledgeable breeder or veterinarian to learn how to synchronize oestrus within your herd.