Raising Dairy or Beef Cows

Raising cattle is not for the faint-hearted! Far too often farmers grow a deep fondness for each of their cows – something that takes them by the heart unexpectedly…

Are Cows Stupid Creatures?

A popular myth is that cows are simple creatures – not very smart. Yet studies have shown that they are actually the smartest in the barnyard, smarter even than pigs (who have now been documented to have the mental capacity of a three year old human child.

Pigs can be house-trained, walked on a leash, taught to fetch, sit, and much more.) Would it not stand to reason then that if we spent the same time with a cow even more parlor tricks could be accomplished?

A polled hereford cow posing for her photo. Polled simply means 'no horns'.

If you’re under the impression that cows are of lesser intelligence than most animals you’ll change your mind once you’ve raised one.

Even if you’ve taken on raising a cow with the intention of beef in the freezer at a later date, you may be shocked to find yourself thinking of cattle more as beloved pets than as a food source. This is especially if you’ve ever had to bottle feed one, or nurse one back to health for any reason!

If you are wondering why YOUR cow might appear to be so dumb, check or change your notions about the beast – as with any animal they are incredibly intuitive!

You may find that you have only been given that which you expected! Your cow just might surprise you if you change your attitude! Studies have shown that cows are sensitive to owners who handle them with patience and care – more sensitive than a dog!

Raising A Healthy Herd

Cattle require a gentle hand and they all thrive on punctuality and routine. Be kind with them, follow a schedule and your herd will be healthier and stress-free.

A prize bull - one of the larger beef breeds of cattle - wins the blue ribbon for the day at the country fair.

My father-in-law used to raise Registered Polled Herefords for a grass fed beef marketplace product. These are a large beef breed of cattle and the last calf born on his farm was 140 lbs at birth. My uncle Al Shier from Bobcaygeon, Ontario was the first man to bring Limosin cattle into Canada and he, too, raises his herd with an appreciative hand – as such both these farmers are known for their exceptional beef in their respective communities.

Both dairy cows and beef cattle are equally challenging and rewarding. They are great, gentle creatures who deserve incredible respect for their patience and sacrifices to their human keepers. If you are raising cattle for milk, meat or market you’ll find that the cow, steer, heifer calf or bull raised with care is the one who’ll produce the most valuable end product!

Assisting a cow during the birth experience with a baby this size is not for the meek or timid.

Young calf, reunited with it's mother after a trying delivery. Cows and calves are highly inquisitive and intuitive.

It goes without saying that most bulls are raised only to a few years of age, then taken off to the cattle butchers – that can be a difficult task when you’ve helped bring the cow into the world or worse, if you’ve been the one at home feeding a newborn with a bottle for the first 4 months of his life. It takes an entirely new mindset, operating from a sense of logic rather than sentiment.

My Personal Experience with Raising Cows

I have raised (or helped to raise) just about every herd animal now and the most moving and mentality-altering experience I’ve had raising animals involved a bull beef calf. He was bought young to be raised for the sole purpose of sending to the freezer at full growth.

Not caring that I sound ridiculous here, I’ll share that I never ate one bit of that bull, and honestly I don’t each much beef now that I’ve had a hand in raising them.

However I am not judgmental of my family, who loves beef more than any other protein, or of anyone reading this – this is simply my personal journey told.

I didn’t spend any consequential time with that bull calf – but I stood with him once when he was ill and I checked in on him whenever I visited my friend’s barn. During those days something touched me about the life we give the animals we raise and my own methods changed from then on.

Feel free to drop me a line or submit a personal cattle related story. I realize that the world is made up of differing viewpoints on raising beef or eating beef. You don’t have to agree with my views on cows to collaborate. I’ll publish your essay on these cattle pages so that all may benefit!

Farm Tractor Auctions!

If you’re raising cattle you will need a tractor! But don’t be shoveling all that waste into a heap and leaving it to rot – cow manure is the magic ingredient in any country garden.

If you don’t have a tractor, check out the tractor sales below, plus over 300 others.

Farm Tractors for Sale on GoodByeCityLife's Country Living Site

19 Comments to "Raising Dairy or Beef Cows"

  1. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    July 9, 2009 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Hello there,

    I enjoyed reading your posts, but I wanted to ask you, we have bought a 15 acre ranch in Oakdale,CA. We have had it for 4 years and have let other farmers use it to graze their cows on, but I really want to start and raise my own. Can you give me any info regards books, or something your self can pass on to me, I am just looking into it all right now, so any help you have would be great, looking forward to hearing from you.


  2. April Cunningham's Gravatar April Cunningham
    July 12, 2009 - 11:22 pm | Permalink

    I moved from the city in California to the country in Kansas just 3 weeks ago and we really love it so far. We ordered out baby chicks online today and will have both egg layers and meat birds. We have been talking about possible raising a pig or cow for the freezer but I don’t know if we have enough space…..only a couple of acres. What do you think? Any wisdom you could share would be greatly appreciated.
    Best Regards,

    • robert's Gravatar robert
      July 25, 2010 - 12:53 pm | Permalink

      I raise pigs for the freezer myself. Never more than two at a time though. My pen is 16×16 hog panels. Just make sure they have shelter, plenty of water and all the feed they can eat, I usually feed about 5 gallons of feed per day for two pigs. About the last 3-4 weeks before processing I put them on straight corn. It helps marbelize the fat. Your local Farm & Home can help with what type of feed to give them. Just let them know they are feeder pigs and not for show.

  3. Carol Wagner's Gravatar Carol Wagner
    July 17, 2009 - 10:25 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed reading your column on cow intelligence. My husband got me a Limousin for my birthday. She has horns, and I don’t want to remove them. Where can I find the balls to cover the points to protect the other cows? Though John grew up on a family dairy farm (we live there now), we do not farm for profit. We now have a few cows simply as pets who will keep our upper fields free of brush. They live a long life!

  4. Joe's Gravatar Joe
    August 28, 2009 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    When cows are in the field for the day, do they need to herded back to the barn in the evening or do they return to the barn on their own?

  5. Thomas, London, UK's Gravatar Thomas, London, UK
    January 10, 2010 - 10:27 pm | Permalink

    I can only whole-heartedly agree: cows/ cattle are intelligent creatures. I would not put them on the same pedalstool as the horse but close second.
    I grew up in Bavaria and Austria, so in my childhood there was always a cow within reach, so to speak.
    Cows have always fascinated me and I love their eyes and wet noses.
    Even their smell is endearing to me.
    I have learnt to appreciate farm life and its animals from early on and since the age of 14 never touched meat again.
    I do however eat chicken and fish.
    I often get raised eyebrows when I say I do not eat mammals but I simply cannot get over eating my brothers and sisters.
    And being born in an Ox year, certainly adds to that as well.

    I think the cow is the most misunderstood and underrated animal we keep as farm animal and it saddens me that most people think of them as “dull cows” when they have got such lovely personalities.


  6. Cathy's Gravatar Cathy
    April 29, 2010 - 8:09 pm | Permalink

    My husband got two male calf at an auction. We bottle-fed them and he is upset that I told him I won’t eat them. He also got a goose and I won’t eat it either. When you take time with animals it is hard to look at them as food. They are my buddies. I live in a the country so there aren’t too many people around.

  7. John and Rachel Miller's Gravatar John and Rachel Miller
    May 28, 2010 - 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi Laura,
    My husband and I are very interested in learning to raise cows for beef, not dairy and was wondering what your suggestions would be as to how to go about it?

  8. Wendy's Gravatar Wendy
    September 27, 2010 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    Hi. I enjoyed your article on cow intelligence and appreciated your views on eating something you raise. We are looking into getting cows as my two girls (9 and 8 years old) love them. I know they would have problems eating anything they helped raise so we were looking into dairy cows. My question is, how many acres are recommended for 2 cows? We thought we could raise the calves then sell them to a local dairy farmer when they have reached the age (whatever that is) when it is time to start milking. Do you have any thoughts on this? We are open to suggestions. Thanks for your help.

    • steven's Gravatar steven
      December 19, 2010 - 10:32 pm | Permalink

      Not sure about the actual needs of cattle but the state of Georgia requires a minimum of 1 acre per cow.

  9. arthur adeyemi's Gravatar arthur adeyemi
    December 14, 2010 - 4:49 am | Permalink

    I am impressed with what i read concerning raising cows. I will appreciate it, if you could help me with updates for a beginner in animal farming. Regards

  10. Jennifer Everett's Gravatar Jennifer Everett
    March 19, 2011 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I live on the east coast and want to get a dairy cow to have raw milk for the family. How much land do I need, and just where do I get some good info about how to do this?

  11. Mphane Mgadush (Lesotho)'s Gravatar Mphane Mgadush (Lesotho)
    April 6, 2011 - 6:39 am | Permalink

    i have three cattle, i bought their mother three years bck, i was just bailing out my friend who was in debt, but since then i hv grown deep love for the creature. i even want to start a feedlot bt i do not have capital. i loved your column

  12. faith's Gravatar faith
    August 30, 2011 - 5:20 am | Permalink

    hi i am an emerging farmer outside Pretoria in South Africa and so far have acquired 7 cows of which three are pregnant. Can you tell me about all the injections and immunisations that are required in order to breed good quality beef cows.

  13. Jerry Love's Gravatar Jerry Love
    February 7, 2012 - 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Im a retired soldier, that have a love for cattle. I was raised on a farm sharecropping for other farmers. In the time that i spent working on the farm i knew that one day this would be me….. I have now reach that point in my life to where i want to give this all that i have just like i did for my country. I have the energy and the time to do what i once loved as a child. i dont know where to start can anyone give me that first step into the right direction. Im a georgia resident….. Help Help Help……. thanks in advance

  14. George's Gravatar George
    October 16, 2013 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    hey do any of you guys have beef cows for sale like $450 please

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