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Need a good basic book on raising cattle naturally

 
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A neighbor threw out the idea that it might be cost effective to raise our own beef between our two pastures. Following the basic axiom of celia revel that nothing is ever JUST.... as in we will JUST put a cow out there and let him have at it. My plea is for help by any knowledgeable about cattle to recommend a book that would get us in the right direction and keep the cow as comfortable and happy as possible. Books on doing this naturally and with heritage stock would be more than welcome. I am keenly interested in planting Native grasses and wonder which ones would be good in California. Im also interested in nutritional quality, and I know that some breeds have been tinkered with over the years and have lost various qualities in the process. Oh, and also, would the cow get lonely if it were the only one? Dumb questions, but maybe I need some information about that. I know goats will die of loneliness if left day on end by themselves. Thank You in advance.
 
steward
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Hi Celia, maybe this one would have some advise for you ?

https://permies.com/t/43161/books/Dairy-Farming-Beautiful-Adam-Klaus
 
Celia Revel
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Thats a good start. I really like the title of the book, and I hope there is information that translates to beef cows. Thank You Miles.
 
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Celia Revel wrote:Thats a good start. I really like the title of the book, and I hope there is information that translates to beef cows. Thank You Miles.



like the title of the book says, it is mainly about dairying (ive read the book and recommend it) but a lot of the info can be used to manage a beef herd.

that said, i think you will need another book to completely understand raising beef.
i wish i knew of such a book, but i dont.

i will try to answer a few of your questions in the OP
i do think a beef cow would do better with a herd. imo, 2-3 beef cows are the minimum.

i am not sure what breeds would fit your situation - to many variables.

for the most part - yeah, you can just leave the cow(s) out there to do their thing.
i would rotate them around different paddocks - using electric polywire if you can.

hope this helps.


 
Celia Revel
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Thanks Kelly, especially on the herd size.
 
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Hi I found this thread via search and I wonder if you or anyone found a good book about modern grazing tactics specifically in California.

I have read _All Flesh is Grass_ ... a wonderful book but the author is in Ohio and most of the practical examples relate to rainy-summer climates.

Just started _The Art and Science of Grazing_ ... again looks great but there's a big disclaimer in Chapter 1 that the book pertains more to climates that have humidity and  summer rain.

Would love to here if there's a book out there relating "modern" grazing... (constantly moving lightweight electric fence, intensive management, grassland plant species awareness) in the climate pattern of California where rain stops May-November (in good years.)

I am working with a small herd in Sonoma County. Most conventional ranching operations start bringing in hay quite soon. Some rotational grazers manage to stay on grass close to year round but a lot depends on the microclimate and soil and water, etc. Would like to know if there's a reference that tries to systematize it.
 
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Hi Chris Pelfron, welcome to Permies! I admit I know very little about cattle raising, but that is a good question.
Have you seen the books forum here? There's a book review grid that has a lot of books are rated by Permies folks. I'm not sure if there's anything useful to you in there or not, might be worth checking.
Books Forum at Permies

 
pollinator
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Hi Chris, here's an excellent book on cattle, grazing, selection, and breeding.  The author's from Africa, Zimbabwe originally, and it discusses many different climates, including dealing with 8 month dry seasons:

MAN, CATTLE and VELD: Johann Zietsman  



Amazon.com page

If you only buy one book on grass-fed cattle, this is the one.  It's packed with an incredible amount of information from someone who's run thousands of head on thousands of acres in a very difficult climate.

Edit:  Just want to mention that most (all?) of the photos in the book are B&W.  The contents, though, should probably constitute an undergrad degree in bovine ag.
 
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Celia Revel wrote:A neighbor threw out the idea that it might be cost effective to raise our own beef between our two pastures.  Following the basic axiom of celia revel that nothing is ever JUST....  as in we will JUST put a cow out there and let him have at it.  My plea is for help by any knowledgeable about cattle to recommend a book that would get us in the right direction and keep the cow as comfortable and happy as possible.  Books on doing this naturally and with heritage stock would be more than welcome.  I am keenly interested in planting Native grasses and wonder which ones would be good in California.  Im also interested in nutritional quality, and I know that some breeds have been tinkered with over the years and have lost various qualities in the process.  Oh, and also, would the cow get lonely if it were the only one?  Dumb questions, but maybe I need some information about that.  I know goats will die of loneliness if left day on end by themselves.  Thank You in advance.



The basics of what beef cattle need everyday:
Water, this is the most important nutrient, they need constant access to large amounts of water.
Salt and mineral. Cattle need salt, calcium, phosporus, and several other minerals in certain quantites. Most of these will be labelled as 1:1 or 2:1, this is the calcium phosporus ratio. A local feed store should have something formulated for beef cattle, this will probably be good enough if you follow the directions.
Feed, green growing pasture should meet the needs of any class of beef cattle. When the pasture is not growing you will need hay. Growing animals will need higher quality, look for lots of leaf, nice green colour, and legumes in it. A mature cow can handle lower quality. They will eat between 2-3% of their body weight in dry matter per day, plan for 3% of body weight.

When I worked with cattle, they would come right up to me while the herd was nearby. If one accidently got outside of the fence and away from the herd it would not let anyone within 50 meters. It would be terrified of anything and everything and likely to break fences. Those cattle needed to be in a group of at least 5 to be comfortable. Cattle who were not raised in a large herd would probably not be so herd bound, but that is my experience. Figure on at least 2 animals.

Non daily things cattle need:
Vaccinate, cattle need a clostridial vaccine. Clostridial diseases such as tetanus, botulism, and blackleg have spores in the soil. You cannot avoid exposure. You need to get this from a vet, and there might be other vaccines you need, talk to the vet and ask.
Recognize and treat illness and injury. Use the BAR acronym. Bright, Alert, Responsive, you cannot sneak up on a healthy animal. When it hears you, it's head should come up. It's eyes and coat should reflect light. It should walk normally when you approach. Have someone to call if it doesn't look right, this can be a vet or someone nearby with cattle experience.

Are you looking at breeding? Or just getting a couple young animals and growing them out to butcher weight?

If you are looking at breeding, which would be good if you get a heritage breed, you are looking at a minimum of 2 cows. Then either buying and maintaining a bull, expensive. Or using artificial insemination, which would be difficult to get an AI tech out for only a few cows.

If you mostly just want meat, I recommend buying a couple weaned calves off someone nearby. Breed doesn't matter as long as they are a beef breed. The main influence on the nutrient density of meat is what the animal ate, and even then, only the last ~6 months really matter. Keep them on grass until you can see fat deposits around the tail head. This will likely be when they are over 2 years old.

There is a beef cattle code of practice that lists everything cattle need. It is up to the person to figure out how to meet all the needs. There are multiple books, articles, and magazines about all that. I personally recommend Holistic Managment: A Framework for Desicion Making by Allam Savory. This is more about deciding how to manage your pastures, land and life though.

If you don't have enough grass for 2 full sized animals there are smaller breeds such as dexters that might work. Or you might have to look at sheep or something.
 
pollinator
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Pat Coleby - Natural Cattle Care

https://www.amazon.com.au/Natural-Cattle-Care-Pat-Coleby/dp/0911311688
 
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