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HighTimeRodeo August 25th, 2010 15:32

Introductions and a request for advice
Hi all! My name is Melanie and I'm 20 years old, just starting a CSA with my family. We currently raise Meat chickens, Feeder pigs and I'd like to start on Beef cattle.

I'm attending college locally, but out of all the careers I could consider, I'd rather work with animals and raising beef sounds more appetizing than anything else. So with that in mind, could anyone give a young female farmer some advice? We're not new to cows, we've had quite a few over the years, mainly Red and Black Herefords, but I'm looking for something that's a little easier to handle, hardier for those pesky Michigan Winters and that will help pay for themselves, both to be sold for eating and for my family to eat, since we just love Beef.

I was considering Angus (black and red), but does anyone know of any other breeds?

Thank you in advance!

Rhodie August 25th, 2010 20:39

Welcome to the forum Melanie, nice to have you join us. Getting a balance between easy handling and adapted to your climate might involve looking into keeping an F1 cow herd and using a third breed to provide the final slaughter generation.
For your area, British breeds especially "Celtic" cattle will cope the best, Hereford are one of the best tempered of these, but there are herds within all breeds that are better tempered than the normal for the breed.
The Galloway is exelent for winter conditions, but can be highly stung if not selected from a herd selected for better temperament, the other drawback is that they retain too much hair even in summer which is a problem at the abattoir, as the hair needs to be clipped to prevent contamination of the carcase, by crossing with a smooth haired breed, the F1 will shed the hair in summer to a more acceptable length. The Sussex is a good breed for this purpose, or go really extreme and cross to the Bonsmara! (see the photos of Bonsmara buls in Canada on the link!), the F1 will shed well in summer, and provide a high level of heterosis.
See what you think, and we can discuss your options further.

HighTimeRodeo August 27th, 2010 19:44

Um... Could you explain that?

Specifically: What's an "F1"? Do two cows count as a herd? And how do I look for a Hereford breeder from around here in MI?

I have to admit (rather shamefacedly) that I forgot to mention I only have 6 and a half acres (the last half-acre being swampy) to work with.

I picked up a book on raising beef cattle and what I've read so far is helpful, especially about thinking genetics and such. But I'm a little intimidated. I'm thinking of starting on raising and selling Deacon Calves to get a start and some practice before I pick out a breed and move on from there.

The breeds look very interesting... Where can I find more information about them?

Rhodie August 28th, 2010 13:54

Deacon calves are an option, but only if you have a market for dairy steers in your area. I will send you a personal message as to where to find breeders in your area.
F1 denotes the first filial generation in a crossbreeding program, that is the first cross between two pure breeds of cattle; Hereford/Angus commonly called Black Baldies in the USA, a common and functional cross.
Two or more cattle are a herd, we all need to start somewhere, and those of us who didn't inherit a herd have to start with the first cow!

HighTimeRodeo August 28th, 2010 19:47

@ Rena: Deacon Calves are bull calves who have been taken straight off their mother after birth and sent to auction. Usually they get the colostrum from the first milk, but the stress from being seperated from Mama and sent to the auction usually make whatever immunity they might have developed unusable. The best way to try and raise Deacon's are with a few, usually three or so, at a time, so they won't be lonely and it won't be so hard if you lose one. We've had a lot of heartbreak with Deacon's, but a lot of luck too, so don't be discouraged to give it a try!

@Rhodie: Oh, so that's what it means! Thank you. I was thinking about doing the Deacons as starting calves for someone who wants to have steers for meat, maybe calves for 4-H kids, because I used to be involved a local group and there might be a place for 4-H calves at another local group.

Gotta help that next generation!

HighTimeRodeo August 31st, 2010 23:40

Hmm, I hadn't considered Jerseys. I don't really have time to milk them when they need to be.

Where'd you get your girls?

HighTimeRodeo September 1st, 2010 14:21

That's not a half bad idea, thank you! I have all winter to plan and process and all that.

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