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Looking to get our first cows

 
Mat Smith
Posts: 125
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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So here's my current situation:
My wife & I have just bought and moved onto our 10 acre property in Sub Tropical Queensland Australia. The sellers used to run cows in here, so I think it should be pretty well ready to run some cows.
The pasture seems pretty good (from my very VERY limited knowledge), the block is mostly cleared with a few trees here and there, and different grasses growing well over most of the land.
There are 2 dams that are full from recent rain.
Fences are pretty good - the long fence on the boundary to the road is white ?epoxy? coated wire, and already has 1 hot wire running along it.
The other 3 boundary fences are 4 strand barbed wire, in great to reasonable condition.
With our recent subtropical heavy rains the grass has exploded in growth, so we are looking to get some cows sooner rather than later.

Goals:
1. Keep the grass down
2. Produce delicious meat for my wife and I.

I have many questions running around in my head but here's a few:
1. What type of cows should we look for or avoid? Does it really matter what type?
2. Are Dexters a good or bad idea? (Thinking good due to smaller = less compaction, less freezer space etc. Thinking bad due to smaller = easier to get through fencing, therefore harder to contain)
3. Should we get cows/heifers/steers? or weened heifer calves/bull calves/steer calves?
4. Any other considerations that we should think about?

In the future I'd like to do daily pasture rotations and follow that with a chook tractor, but for now I just want to get 2 or so cows to free range, and tweek our system from there as we go.

Thanks

Mat
 
Kris Arbanas
Posts: 87
Location: PNW
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Mat,
Since any breed will keep your pasture down, maybe you should try some beef from a few of your locally available sources and choose which one tastes best to you.

I have tried grass finished dexter beef and the flavor was good but I found it to be very lean. Personally, I like a beef animal that can get fat on grass because to me it's the fat that's delicious and has the most value. I would look to buy from someone locally that has animals with grass genetics unless your going to grain finish them.

Getting some young steers might be a good starting option as you could probably pick them up fairly cheap and raise to slaughter weight in 12-18months. Alternately, if you don't want to overwinter (hay cost), you can get some animals that are old enough to finish before the winter hits. Cows are obviously necessary if you want to start your own herd rather than always bring animals in so it all depends.

 
Mat Smith
Posts: 125
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Thanks Kris
Any particular reason on suggesting Steers?
 
Kris Arbanas
Posts: 87
Location: PNW
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Well compared to heifers that can eventually be bred, steers will cost less. Heifers have the benefit of becoming replacements for breeding stock and therefore will cost more.
 
Mat Smith
Posts: 125
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Thanks Kris.

I think if we get some electric tape, posts, energiser, and a water trough with float valve we should be right to go.

Now my only question in regard to buying calves is how old?
How old do they have to be so that they can just be put onto pasture without having to hand feed or provide much shelter/infrastructure?

Thanks

Mat
 
Kris Arbanas
Posts: 87
Location: PNW
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For sure, you don't need much to get set up. I would look for calves that have been nursed for at least 6 months and weaned.
 
Mat Smith
Posts: 125
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Great, thanks Kris.
Now, to find some 6 month old weaned calves...............
 
Ed Sitko
Posts: 44
Location: Bitterroot
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I wonder if a local livestock auction would be the place to start. Get an idea for prices, which btw are very high right now.

I bought two steers from a neighbor several years back, raised them for the meat. I'd do it again.

btw: if you're looking to buy steers, don't call them cows

Here's an auction report from Missoula. When I had bought my steers the 500-600 range was 160-180 (1.60 to 1.80 per pound)

http://missoulalivestock.com/marketreports.html

 
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