|Homes and Lifestyle|
Montana Farm and Ranch: Raising your own beef
September 22, 2009
Raising a few head of beef cattle can be very rewarding for landowners. If you have enough acres to support a small herd you will be joining the majority of cattle owners. The majority of cattle herds in the United States consist of less than 50 head. Although Montana herds are typically in excess of 200 head, many Montana herds are less than 100 head. There are some very important items that must be addressed prior to purchase.
Do you have enough land? Beef cattle require at least 30 pounds of dry matter per day. The rule of thumb for cattle producers is to produce twice the amount of grass needed for a beef animal than it requires. This is done to keep the grass healthy and not overgraze the pasture. If you have quality irrigated pasture, you will need at least 1.5 acres per animal for the growing season. In other words, you will need nearly eight (8) acres per beef animal assuming the beef animal consists of a cow and her calf. If your pasture produces less that 2000 pounds per month you will need more acres.
In addition, you will need to have some sort of handling facilities. Cattle need to be restrained to do vaccinations, veterninary inspetdions or loading on a trailer. It is important to to have safe working conditions for your saftey. Injuring can happen quickly in the cattle business. You do not need a high cost hydralic chute, but you do need a system to restrain the animals. They are very strong and generally do not like being restrained. It is a good idea to look at your neighbors systems and ask them if they need help working their cattle. You will soon see why a good restraint system is necessery for your safely and the animal's safety.
Fences are also very important. The old saying that good fences make good neighbors probably came from a guy living next to a cattle herd. Neighbors typically do not like your cows on their property. If you live in an area of small parcels, this rule is even more important. You will need at least five barbed wires with posts set at 16 foot intervals for your perimeter fence.
— Montana State University Extension Service