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Cattle Questions From A Newbie

 
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Hello this is my first post on this forum. I have a few questions about raising cattle. I plan on trying to homestead in the future and I am interested in raising miniature breeds of cattle for personal use and not for selling the meat or the milk because of this I want to raise maybe 2 or 3 cattle. My biggest concurn is my familys safty and im concerned if i get a bull it will try to charge at one of us. I have never been around cows more then just a hour or two.

My Questions:

Will i have problems milking the cow if i keep the bull in the same paddack? I want my wife to be able to milk the cow without the bull charging at her.

If i get a bull do i keep it with the cow and calf year round?

If in diffrent paddocks can the paddocks be right next to each other?

How can i prevent the bull from attacking my wife and young children?

When I decide to get cattle what breeds would you recommend? I have a family of 4 and plan on milking and beef.


 
gardener
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Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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Bulls can be very gentle. You can hand feed them, let them lick your fist, rub their head etc. This is especially true if you get them young and raise them.

But...don't do that. Its fun when they are on the other side of a fence.  But if they associate you with that snack, they will run up to you if you are in the pasture. While nothing bad ever happened,  it can scare the crap out of you, a bull running full charge at you.

Not many people raise cows to full slaughter. They sell off the young. I take them to full slaughter. It takes distance and fencing to do it. At about 6 months the bull is trying to mate the baby cow. Im not interested in slaughtering a pregnant cow. I move them out. The bull wants them. Fencing needs to be good.

I haven't milked yet. This will be our first year.. The process of milking is getting the cow to a designated spot to milk her. Generally there are snacks involved. If the bulll is pushy and wants the snack it may be him in the milk station. Lol. I don't think i will have that issue though. You can easily establish a pattern where every cow has there own feeder. While the other 2 are eating, you can train the other to follow you to her personal spot to milk.



 
pollinator
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Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
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Tyler Stewart wrote:Hello this is my first post on this forum. I have a few questions about raising cattle. I plan on trying to homestead in the future and I am interested in raising miniature breeds of cattle for personal use and not for selling the meat or the milk because of this I want to raise maybe 2 or 3 cattle. My biggest concurn is my familys safty and im concerned if i get a bull it will try to charge at one of us. I have never been around cows more then just a hour or two.

My Questions:

Will i have problems milking the cow if i keep the bull in the same paddack? I want my wife to be able to milk the cow without the bull charging at her.

If i get a bull do i keep it with the cow and calf year round?

If in diffrent paddocks can the paddocks be right next to each other?

How can i prevent the bull from attacking my wife and young children?

When I decide to get cattle what breeds would you recommend? I have a family of 4 and plan on milking and beef.




A dairy bull is not for newbies, especially not newbies who want a milk cow.

A dairy farmer in my area was killed by a bull one Thanksgiving. He’d been a dairy farmer his whole life. Maybe he let his guard down. But he never came in from chores.

Get your cow artificially inseminated. It is a lot cheaper than buying and keeping a dairy bull.
 
gardener
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Once you & the bull are accustomed to each other it is less likely to be aggressive. Like Wayne implied you don't want it to think it is a pet. Because it is not! We generally move ours to another pasture before handling the females & calves. If for some reason that doesn't happen a designated bull watcher is advised. Mostly as a precaution. It only takes one bull incident to ruin your whole day. If they want "it" bad enough they will go off the edge of a 40 foot cliff. Ask me how I know (:  
 
pollinator
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Welcome to permies!

I lived on a farm with cattle for about 18 months. They borrowed a bull, wanted to keep him locked up for a few days while acclimating.

He was there maybe a day before we heard an unexpected gunshot. The farmer and I were 400 metres away working on a duck project.. we looked at each other. Then another one. Hm, not a gunshot... oh crap.

He jumped juust high enough to belly flop on to the fence, and then did it again to the second fence. This was full dimension 2x6 fir on 8"+ log posts, 5ft high. Nothing but splinters left, long nasty sharp splinters.


Kind of hard to justify a bull for that headcount anyhow...
 
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Location: Oklahoma Panhandle
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Tyler,

Personally I'd try not to feed a bull all year just to breed a couple cows.  Leasing a bull or artificial insemination would be quite a bit less expensive.  I know people who have over large numbers of cows who lease bulls because they feel it's more cost effective for them.
There are A.I technicians who make their living breeding cows.  Sometimes a neighbor can help you with a bull.

It would be helpful if you put your approximate location or region with your name.  Ideas that work for us may not be practical in your situation depending where you live










 
wayne fajkus
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Miniature breeds will likely make sourcing a borrowed bull harder.

My personal preferance is keeping a bull even though i only have 2 breeder cows and no plans to expand it. My reasoning is happy cows and going full circle. AI may be easier, but you lose some self suffiency. You as the rancher has to decide that. I'm not you, you're not me.

Infrastructure is something overlooked when planning. Not just the sorting of babies from bull, but in transport.  Loading a cow to take to slaughter. Unloading and loading a "borrowed " bull. Some cows came to my place pretty bloody  and beat up. Probably from lack of good infrastructure to pen them or load them.
 
pollinator
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These considerations are one of the reasons why I stuck with dairy goats, even though I was raised with cows (well, not in the barn -- we had cows, LOL!).  A good goat will give as much milk as one of those mini cows anyway, and -- if you have to keep a male -- a buck goat is a LOT less dangerous (though smellier) than a bull of any breed.

Kathleen
 
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We had a Highlander lowline cross bull got him at six months old . Was gentle to a fault but once he got older was very hard to keep in got to have the females.he made good hamburger
 
Myrth Gardener
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:These considerations are one of the reasons why I stuck with dairy goats, even though I was raised with cows (well, not in the barn -- we had cows, LOL!).  A good goat will give as much milk as one of those mini cows anyway, and -- if you have to keep a male -- a buck goat is a LOT less dangerous (though smellier) than a bull of any breed.

Kathleen



Agreed. I had a cow years ago. Sold her and got goats. Goats are easier to handle and bucks are easier to deal with than bulls or AI. I could haul goats in a small car. Try that with a cow!

A good goat will give MORE milk than most mini cows.
 
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Location: North Texas
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First of all, I’m excited for your future project! I am interested in the answers and tips you have received as we are also planning on getting mini cows for personal use. We are researching the best option for a small homestead in north Texas and also want to have both the bull and a cow as a breeding pair. I’m not interested in milking just raising for beef.

I hope more people can add suggestions for both of us!
 
wayne fajkus
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Patti, the main theme is a good fence. Everything is fine when everyone is together.  Once you start separating them, and the bull wants to be with the ones on the other side of the fence, trouble starts.

This leads to why sort them?

Inbreeding (problem for some, some dont care)
Not letting slaughter cows get pregnant
Fattening up the slaughter cows. Separate diet.

If you have a baby bull, it can be castrated and kept with the others. No reason to sort them.

 
pollinator
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Reasons to sort them... well, one reason anyway. If you have female calves that you decide to keep as breeders, you’ll not want them bred until they’re 1 to 2 years old, depending on the breed. I have Highlands; three heifers. One and maybe two of them are pregnant. They came that way because(as someone else said) a bull managed to find its way into their paddock (oops). Scottish Highlanders are usually not bred until they’re two years old. Some do breed them at one year, but others say a yearling heifer isn’t mature enough. I don’t know who’s right, but I’m pretty sure two of them are “with calf.”

Miniature cattle are really expensive; at least Highlands are; and they can be hard to source, too. I ended up getting standard ones. I’m planning to get a young bull this year because “borrowing a bull” really isn’t an option for me, and we’re pretty remote to get the vet out in the short window between when I notice they’re in estrus and when it’s just too late. Plus there are three of them-not enough to justify (for me) buying the equipment to learn AI myself, or having the vet out all the time in hope of catching the right moment. To make things more complicated, we’re surrounded by USFS land which is grazed in summer/fall by a rancher who runs Black Angus. I need my heifers to stay bred to protect them from the BA bulls who would likely break their backs in breeding them. We do have a good fence but it’s still worrying. The bull will eat grass like the heifers. I have lots of grass, and winter hay has been cheap for a while. If there’s a drought, or if the bull doesn’t work out we can always eat it.

There are a lot of Dexters around here. You might want to consider them since they’re naturally polled (hornless). I had my heart set on Scottish Highlands and still do, but if we had small children I’d go with Galloways or Dexters. Highlands are generally gentle, but they’re still cows and they’ll hurt you by just being big and thoughtless and clumsy if you don’t keep your guard up. These I mentioned are all beef cattle but you can milk them. It’s my understanding you can milk-share with a calf and still get around a half gallon of very rich (probably naturally homogenized) milk a day from a (standard-sized) beef cow. From a mini you’ll no doubt get less. If you want a lot of milk you might consider dairy goats as others have suggested. Goats are harder to fence but easier to handle.

Maybe you can find some Dexter heifers already bred (they’re easier to find than other minis, at least I’ve seen a lot more of them for sale online) and just spend some time getting used to having cattle... learn to interact with them, get your infrastructure in place (shed, stauncheon, pen, whatever you need for your location and the management style you envision), and don’t worry about a bull right away. There’s no hurry for that, really. By the time you need a bull, you’ll feel more confident and you’ll likely have a better idea as to whether you want to run cattle or maybe try goats or milk sheep or heck... camels? LOL  If you do choose a dairy breed, you don’t have to get a dairy bull (which are famous for being aggressive) unless you want them to produce dairy heifers for you to milk. If you just want to slaughter the calves, the important thing about the bull is that you’ll be comfortable with it and that it will sire calves easily born and the kind of beef you want for your freezer.
 
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Didn't know if your still searching for info or not. I am not an expert either.
But we have been doing this for 1 1/2 years, something new every day.
I agree with what someone else said I would recommend goats for the milk.
easier to handle and cheaper to maintain.

We now have 4 Lowline-Zebu cross cows.
The meat is excellent!!!

As for the bull. If you spent time with them it should be fine.
Mine is actually more friendly than the cows, But he will be in your back pocket every time your trying to do any work in the pasture.
However he does seem to get frisky at dusk. I have told my wife and even I rarely go out into pasture late evening.
He is a real beast of an animal. Don't be scared of him but always be aware of him.

We got 3 cows over a year ago. A 1 yr old bull 1 yr old steer and 9 month old heifer at the time we got them.
The steer is now in the freezer and the heifer was bred at 15 months (naturally).

A bull will take a little longer to mature than a heifer. So depending on your breed
check ages and stagger them so they become ready at or close to the same time.

As for calves we plan to castrate the calve if a bull for meat later.
Trade or sale if a heifer. that would eliminate any in house issues or to early breeding.

Our bull has been fine, However he does smell or neighbors cows a 1/2 mile away.
We had to beef up the fence line facing our neighbors and strengthen the corner areas in direction of our neighbors
Seems to have helped. He will still go the closest corner to our neighbor of each paddock and gaze in the direction of our neighbors.
Don't have to worry about any fencing on back side away from neighbors. A bull doesn't know how to use a back door.

We also just bought a new cow that is 3 yrs old. She was pregnant and just gave birth to a bull. She will be ready to breed again in June.
Our other heifer should give birth in August and be ready to breed again around November.

The two cows will help to increase the possibility of constant meat in the freezer.
And in the event one is a heifer and we have to trade off or sell.

I think I would like to get them closer to the same cycle but will try this for now.

Again though the bull so far isn't a problem as far as people or other pets. But you can see his strength and I am watching closely
hoping he doesn't destroy any more fences.
He seems to be somewhat content with his tiny heard.

I enjoy the full process and satisfaction of raising them from start to finish.
But I have also figured out it would be just as cheap for me to buy a couple of steers to raise one for meat and 1 to sell.
As compared to raising a bull, cow and calf.
And without some of the headache. But I'm just a gluten for punishment and I enjoy it.

But to answer your question. To the temperament of the bull toward you or your wife, that will be the least of your problems.
Enjoy it....... I know I do.
 
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