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Cattle for beef and dairy - 2012 Update

We’ve now had Bella for about 18 months and have learnt so much about owning a house cow!  As I mentioned in my kitchen update, having access to raw milk has allowed me to experiment with lots of the recipes in Nourishing Traditions.  Bella has a very gentle nature, but she is her own cow, and will tell us very clearly (usually by kicking) if she is not happy with something we are doing.

Bella with her foster calf Romeo
I wrote a post about choosing a house cow, often you don’t have much choice, we were offered Bella and had to decide if we would take her, but this might help you to know what to look for and how to find yourself a house cow.  We also learnt early on how to milk Bella, how to manage mastitis, how to arrange for the vet to AI her so she could get back in calf and finally weaning Molly to prepare for the next calf.  We then went through the birth of Bella's calf, which died, and had to get a foster calf, which she eventually accepted.  Finally we are now going to have to make some decisions about castrating the little foster calf, which I will write up in more detail, but here is a post about castrating little Rocket.  We also bought Donald the Dexter bull and he has successfully got Molly pregnant.  That was much less interesting than having the vet do AI!

Miss Molly
Links about House Cows
The perfect house cow (not that Bella is perfect!)

Big D-onald the dexter bull
In the middle of the year we had another steer killed (Bratwurst) and spent a morning packing the meat into the freezer.  I’ve now written three posts of home butchering, which may be of interest if you haven’t done it before.  Following the butchering, we then started to process the hide.  It is currently still under salt in the shed, because we’ve been too busy to start it, but we hope it will come out as good as the last one we did.

Links about Butchering
Home butcher vs meatworks
Homekill meat - some tips for beginners
Homekill butchering
Tanning a hide
Tanning a steer hide - update and answers




Early in the, year we also bought an additional, much larger property, so that we could start to have more cattle and develop a truly sustainable and self-sufficient property, with some excess to sell as well (more to come in the farm update).  This led to some interesting experiences, firstly with the steers that we bought and then had to chase around our property after then got through some fences.  This got us thinking about the beef cattle industry and we decided that we would rather keep cows than buy other people’s (crazy) weaner steers.  We then found a lovely herd of Braford cows and calves, which we brought to the new property.  Then a couple of the calves got sick and we found that we had paralysis ticks on the property and had to work out how to deal with them.

We had lots of decisions about managing the cattle and suddenly they are governed not just by our own preferences, but by the preferences of “the market”.  We now need to consider whether to vaccinate, how to castrate, and when to dehorn our calves.  We have had one attempt at working the entire herd through our cattle yards to put insecticidal ear tags in the calves, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that we could move them all through with just the two of us in about two hours.  We will soon be getting our first Braford bull too.  There is still much to learn, but the more I am finding out about Brafords, the more I love them, there will be much more to write soon.

Benny the orphan
Links about Beef Cattle


A herd of Braford cows
How about your cattle?  Do you have a house cow or a herd?  How did they do this year?  What did you learn?  Please comment or link to your own post below.

Chicken update
Garden update
Kitchen update

You might also be interested in my series on getting started with homestead dairy

Comments

  1. I really appreciate these posts. While we don't have cattle, we are relatively new to farming and have been learning quite a lot along the way. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. We would love a house cow but at the moment it is just not practical. We do not have quite enough land so will probably wait till we move to NZ.

    ReplyDelete
  3. thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happy to help! We are all learning as we go along...

    ReplyDelete

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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