Starting fresh with beef stock

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7 years 2 weeks ago #39728 by calebnsarah
Hi all, my husband and i are wanting to move out of the city and on to a lifestyle block, around 16 hectare. We are wanting to earn a decent side income with beef, buying calves and selling once big enough. I was just wondering if someone could help me with advice as to how profitable this is and if beef farming is worth it? we both have experience on farms. Thanks for your help all :D

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507691 by Stikkibeek
I'd buy good quality stock as weaners and grow on. Dairy/beef calves may be cheaper, but they also take a lot longer to finish so it's more practical to buy beef weaners. An alternative is to have some good nurse cows and raise feeder calves that way, (Or by milking a little herd for the same purpose) but it is a commitment time wise. There is very little profit in buying feeder calves that you have to raise on powdered milk and calf meal although there could be satisfaction in the process. Keep an eye on the meat schedule. Beef prices have commanded pretty good returns in the last quarter of this year.
It helps to involve a good stock buyer in the process. Depending on where you plan to settle, there is reasonable money in horse grazing. Adjistment of spelling race horses is quite lucrative if you make contact with the right people, but you do need good fences, and don't overload the place with too many or they will trash your pasture. Don't take on colts or stallions either as they can be difficult to handle and you wont be able to have more than one per paddock in case of fighting. In some circumstances the owner or trainer will handle feed and care.

Welcome to the LSB.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507696 by LongRidge
With any type of farming, there is about a 10 year cycle of profitability. There are about 2 years very profitable, 18 months just profitable, 18 months loss, 2 years big loss, 18 months loss, 18 months just profitable,2 years very profitable etc, etc.
We got into breeding cattle about 20 years ago. It has been an experience but is now one that I would like to get out of.
My suggestion is the same as it has been for many years.
Year 0 to 1 buy half the number of beef calves that you think your property should be able to run. Make hay out of excess grass and keep enough to feed 1/3 bale per animal per day for 100 days.
March next year buy a similar number of beef calves. Feed out the hay over winter to both the yearlings and calves. Don't forget to fertilise the pasture.
If possible, November next year shut up some hay paddocks. You might need to break feed some of this saved pasture. If possible, sell as many as possible of the older cattle to the freezing works.
Etc, etc.

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507698 by muri
Replied by muri on topic Starting fresh with beef stock
Personally, if you are wanting to make a 'decent side living' off 16 acres by doing calves, the only way I can see that happening is by breeding them yourself and selling on.
Prices will vary around the country and not sure where you are.
In Auckland, 4 day old feeder calves are selling for around $175 on trade me and these would be dairy cross as well. Milk powder is nearly $200 a bag and you would get through two if not three per animal to finish them properly
Weaners are around $500-600
Two years later they may go to the works and fetch 1200-1500.
Yearlings are around $600 - 700.
I would be buying in yearlings and finishing them off well for the works if I was buying in animals.
Otherwise a small breeding group and producing your own calves could be a good option, that way you can control the quality of what you are producing and know they are really beef animals as well

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507704 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic Starting fresh with beef stock
I'd be buying really good weaners and one year later selling them to the works. Why buy crap and waste another year?

Depends on your pasture provision too, but if you did it all really well, that would work. Problem is, doing it really well all the time and the weather cooperating as well.

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507708 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic Starting fresh with beef stock
The title we live on is 16 acres and I raise calves. I milk a small jersey herd although will be in full production milking 14 next year and we keep a bull.

I tried a season of buying bobby calves and raising them on milk powder and I would have been better off buying in reasonable quality weaners.

These days I hold onto my stock (I prefer red white faces) for the prime market but have another 60 acres down the back where I currently have 22 grazing.

Another neighbour (who is on 100 acres) buys in 18 months old beefies and who are in need of a good feed and drench. Mind you he has excellent yard holding facilities where he keeps them penned for the first few days so they settle down a bit and become used to him feeding out hay etc and he takes his time buying.

His paddock fences are all in very good condition to be able to contain the animals thereafter because they will still run. I think he generally makes $600 per head when he goes to sell to the prime market a year later.

Getting back to the 16 acres I guess it depends if you are living on site how much of the land is being taken up by housing/shed requirements, how much flat land you have to be able to make hay/silage for your winter feed out requirements, and how good the pasture is and if you are going to need to re-grass or even rest various paddocks at a time.

We have 5 acres out of action ATM due to re-grassing that hasn't taken off as we might have hoped. Costs for that was the grass seed, slug pellets, fertiliser, bull dozer grading of the paddocks to remove old race track and deep rip the compacted soil, with new internal fencing. Eventually water troughs will need to be purchased too. Pump repairs this year alone over $400, our 4th repair bill in 7 years.

And then there is the question of what is a decent sized income?

Do a budget allowing for a regular fertiliser programme, costs of equipment and repairs and I can assure you it gets spent in greater amounts than it is made.

Do I think you can make something off 16 acres with raising beefies? Yes I think you can, enough to pay the rates, enough land to grow your own meat and vege requirements. Whether it is a reasonable income or not depends on your outgoings for the property and costs of rearing the stock and how you plan on reducing the outgoing costs (winter feed) keeping that stock and what existing working facilities the property already has.

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507712 by Stikkibeek

muri;514336 wrote: Personally, if you are wanting to make a 'decent side living' off 16 acres by doing calves, the only way I can see that happening is by breeding them yourself and selling on.
Prices will vary around the country and not sure where you are.
In Auckland, 4 day old feeder calves are selling for around $175 on trade me and these would be dairy cross as well. Milk powder is nearly $200 a bag and you would get through two if not three per animal to finish them properly
Weaners are around $500-600
Two years later they may go to the works and fetch 1200-1500.
Yearlings are around $600 - 700.
I would be buying in yearlings and finishing them off well for the works if I was buying in animals.
Otherwise a small breeding group and producing your own calves could be a good option, that way you can control the quality of what you are producing and know they are really beef animals as well

Actually Muri, that was 16 hectares which is closer to 40 acres.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507722 by LongRidge
16 hectares gives a little bit more flexibility than 16 acres, but the principles are very similar.
As a generalisation, the more work that you are able to do yourselves then the more profitable the farm will be. If you have to employ somebody because you want to go away for a couple of weeks "holiday", both the holiday and the employment will cost you money. For our steep little property I have an ATV, an attached fertiliser spreader, a flat deck HiLux to collect the fertiliser, shares in Ravensdown, shares in Farmlands, 2 back pack Solo sprayers, an 80 L ATV sprayer, electric fencing and lots of tape and standards, cattle yards (built by me) with a head bale, and cattle scales which I also weigh sheep, goats, horses, hay bales, and any other thing that takes my fancy that is less than 2 tonnes. I don't have oral cattle drenching equipment which I do need. I have a tractor but use it so seldomly that the battery goes flat between uses. Most of this equipment has paid itself off, and there might be a small re-sale value, but they were all unexpected expenses. Trail bikes for the kids, donkeys (21 last count) for The Manager, dogs (3 1/2 last count for The Manager), and a horse in a pear tree :-((.

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507729 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic Starting fresh with beef stock
Thanks Stikki, I had 16 acres in my head too.

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507761 by muri
Replied by muri on topic Starting fresh with beef stock
I am not sure that it matters if you are on 16 acres or hectares, the principles are the same.
You can obviously have more animals on 16 ha, than 16 acres and more animals should mean more profitability.
There is also another important factor, over and above previous descriptions of costs and outputs etc and that is the value of the product you are selling.
Our meat prices are very much tied to overseas markets. The tipped high lamb schedule never eventuated because demand from China and other markets has dramatically reduced.
So the beef schedule is something we as farmers dont have control over and it could well plummet if many have moved from sheep farming into either beef or dairy, So you are not buying and selling on the same market. If you buy in when the prices are high, you may well be selling, or need to sell when prices are low

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507773 by Stikkibeek

muri;514406 wrote: I am not sure that it matters if you are on 16 acres or hectares, the principles are the same.

Maybe the principals are similar, but there is a vast difference between 16 acres and 16 hectares.
For instance, if you had the smaller block, you would be hard pressed to have a reasonable breeding herd that would also need to be carried over the winter in an "unproductive" state, which means you'd likely be in a situation where you would have to sell your offspring as weaners. While there may be some profit to be had in that, it would still be better to be able to carry young stock over as they make a lot of growth in the 9-15 month timeframe. You couldn't carry them without the use of extra land whether leased or owned.
With the larger land size, you could develop a small special herd which will give a much better return, as in the case of Sue and her lovely Murray greys.

Otherwise, buying in good beef weaners and carrying them through their first winter with hay you cut yourself, is still the best option. We have two different kinds of cattle at present. Purebred herefords and a mix of dairy/beef. They are close to the same age, but the herefords would be getting close to 230kg, while the dairy beef would be 150-180kg. Yes the dairy beef will get there eventually and they do have the benefit of being very quiet, but they will take a lot longer, possibly as much as a year, whereas I anticpate we will be sending the herefords to the works from about October. Usually in time to shut up pasture for hay.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507776 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic Starting fresh with beef stock
With an effective area of something near 50 ha, I don't keep most of my weaners. They only stay if they're likely replacements. That must be why I'm poor.

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507779 by Stikkibeek

Ruth;514422 wrote: With an effective area of something near 50 ha, I don't keep most of my weaners. They only stay if they're likely replacements. That must be why I'm poor.

There are variables of course. When Dad was selling the registered herefords he always kept them until 2yo as his mind set was that they were closer to breeding age then and a lot of dairy farmers liked them (the bulls) to finish off the AI season. He used to combine his sale with another farmer who had polled herefords. The pollys were sold as yearlings and used to fetch almost the same amount as our 2yos. I never could get dad to see the sense of selling earlier. For the meat market however, unless you wanted to sell as vealers (what we used to do with bucket reared dairy beef) then you need to keep them longer as I'm sure you are well aware. Also, I don't think you cut hay do you?

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507793 by LongRidge
.... and the problem with keeping a heifer for a day longer than you should have is that she will have cut her teeth and thus lose half her value by now being a cow. Very easy to do unless you have a good headbale, and have taught your heifers to open their mouths while you are trying to look for those newly erupted adult teeth :-((

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7 years 2 weeks ago #507795 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic Starting fresh with beef stock

Stikkibeek;514426 wrote: ...For the meat market however, unless you wanted to sell as vealers (what we used to do with bucket reared dairy beef) then you need to keep them longer as I'm sure you are well aware. Also, I don't think you cut hay do you?

I cannot fathom the meaning of that first sentence. (My mind is probably confuddled by having sent my cows to the works today.)
No, we don't do hay, but that only makes the difference in our carrying capacity through the winter - or do you mean something else?

Oh, do you mean can't sell as weaners to the works? Why would you. I sell to someone who grows them on and a year or so later they go to the works.

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