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Please help me with this... I live on 22 acres and it's all post and rail fencing.. is it possiible to have in with 2 horses? I want to buy one soon.. what weight is best to butcher at...Thanks.. looking forward to hearing ideas..JAMES

-- James (onemaur@yahoo.com), September 20, 2001


Hi James, Having a calf with horses is the best idea because, believe it or not, a calf gets lonesome as does an adult cow or steer. Be sure if you are getting a male that he is castrated (thus a steer). Not only makes for a better animal, but also for better meat.

You will want to butcher at around 800-1000 pounds. That will take about a year. Anything past 1000 pounds is just adding fat - not meat. Be sure you have adequate freezer space because you will be shocked at how much meat that is! A family of 4 generally will only use half a steer for the whole year. If you have a small family you might want to propose to a friend or neighbor going in on one with you. The other alternative is to butcher it at a younger age - at around 6-7 months.

For more info check the book "Raising a Calf for Beef". There is usually a copy at the library or you can generally find it on Ebay. You can also purchase a copy online from Amazon, Booksamillion or Barnes and Noble.

By the way, I sure envy your full 22 acres of post and rail fencing! You sure are lucky!!! Best of luck!

-- Karen (db0421@yahoo.com), September 20, 2001.

I still maintain one is financially better off just going to a livestock auction, selecting a desirable yearling and then making arrangements to have it taken to the processing plant. Probably 99% of yearlings sold have never received any medicated feed, just momma and pasture. If you want to finish it off, then buy one in the early spring, get it 'grass-fat' on pasture and have it processed in the fall so you don't have to overwinter it. If you want those 'juicy steaks', then confine it the last couple of months and put fattening feed to it.

Whatever you do, as others have suggested here, don't name the critter Billy, Fred, Henry or whatever. Rather Hamburger, Sir Loin, Rumpy or something else to lessen the attachment to it.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), September 20, 2001.

Personally, we have found it to be very expensive to buy a steer at a ready to butcher weight at the auction. Maybe they run high here. Anyway, I'd rather buy a small steer in the fall and feed it hay over the winter when it's smaller and let it fatten on grass come spring and summer, than to buy one in spring and possibly have to keep it for part of the winter and feed it hay when it will eat so much more. We were told our Angus steers would gain 3 lbs a day on good pasture. Your steer will eat about 2% of its weight a day in hay. A dairy cross steer will gain better if given a bit of grain, IMHO. Hope this helps.

Julie PS, In case you're wondering, your steer will hang at approx 60% of it's live weight (and if you're paying a butcher that's the weight they will use to charge you) and you will receive approx 70% of that in meat. Therefore, a 1000 lb steer will yield about 420lbs of meat. Yum!

-- Julie (julieamc@eagleslair.net), September 20, 2001.

I disagree with putting a calf in with horses. HORSES BULLY CATTLE. As far as when to butcher, whenever you feel a need for the meat is the time to butcher. I would not, myself, overwinter a large steer because of the cost of hay and feed, growing a small one overwinter isn't that bad, but the young ones do need shelter. Tana

-- Tana Cothran (tana@getgoin.net), September 21, 2001.

I have never had a problem with the horses bullying the calf. Of course the horses are the boss (they are the boss of EVERY animal, aren't they?? LOL...ours always thought they owned the place - I always said we will just have them make the mortgage payments since they thought so...LOL) and they will let the calf know that, but once everyone is aquainted and the rules are established everyone is fine, and happy for the extra company. Just like in any herd. You put 2 cows together or 2 horses together you get the same thing. We don't just turn them loose together but keep them separated but able to see each other for the first week and then put them together. You can stake out a new calf.

I agree that the auction prices are high. Also, you aren't sure where they come from and what conditions it was born or living under if you auction buy.

Also, what we do to cut the cost is to buy a calf this time of year. It is a TON cheaper to winter over a calf than an almost full size steer. We butcher the steer then the following fall.

Unless you live in a REALLY cold climate, cattle can stay out all year in just a lean-to. In fact, they prefer it outside. Thier fur gets much heavier in the winter. Just be sure they do have shelter, get grain and free choice hay, and they must have unfrozen water. There is all kinds of gadgets you can get to prevent the water from freezing. Basically, if you can keep horses over a winter, you can keep a calf over the winter much much easier.

Although you want to raise your beef the cheapest way possible, it is still going to cost. You will need at least a ton of hay for a year, lots of grain although in many parts of the country you can just pasture for much of the year; however, regardless of cost you won't believe the what fine steaks and roasts you will have. It is worth every penny! If you want the choice steaks you will have to grain feed toward the end and that is what adds up; although, frankly, we have had wonderful beef with little grain feeding in the "frugal" years. With only 2 horses and a steer on 22 acres, provided you have it divided -- you have plenty of pasture!

If you take into consideration all the costs - even grain feeding - you will find that you will generally come out much less than if you bought all that meat at the store. Besides, you know where your meat is coming from. Only way to look at it is that it is an "investment" in feeding your family for a year.

-- Karen (db0421@yahoo.com), September 21, 2001.

My horse will run cattle , we had to seperate him .Your best bet is to try to get a calf of 2-4 months.Right now you can get one for about the same price as a good newborn .This way you also take less of a chance of loosing it .Also any chemicals put in it will be gone by butchering time.

-- Patty {NY State} (fodfarms@slic.com), September 21, 2001.

I disagree with what Ken said about buying at auction as it depends on the practises where you live. Here in S IA which is cattle country, it is NORMAL practise to implant with hormones - we had to argue with our vet to not get our steer calves implanted, so you wouldn't want to buy at auction.

I would not buy a newborn and put it in with horses. You might want to look at a weanling that you could butcher next spring/summer. Ours are about 500-600 lbs right now and prices are about $1/lb. A weanling you could try in with horses and see how the horses behave. We have a couple of horses (geldings) that if they get bored will run the cattle. Almost all of the rest of our horses - and we have 14 of them are fine. They are bossy, meaning they get the feed and water first, but fine otherwise.

-- beckie (sunshine_horses@yahoo.com), September 21, 2001.

Electric fencing is a good option to separate the calf from the horses, as both species do respect it. Also, the calf wont be as lonely by himself, if he sees the horses close by. Good advice all along, up above!

-- daffodyllady (daffodyllady@yahoo.com), September 21, 2001.

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