Cattle for small lifestyle

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9 months 3 weeks ago #556075 by [email protected]
Considering a few heads of cattle for a small lifestyle (3Ha). Any suggestions? requirements and considerations would be appreciated.

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9 months 3 weeks ago #556076 by Stikkibeek
What is your general locality. I have a nice house cow for sale, or at least she will be, and in milk when I wean her calves.

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

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9 months 3 weeks ago #556077 by [email protected]
We are In the Nelson area.
Trying to decide between some sheep or cattle.

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9 months 3 weeks ago #556079 by Live4cows
Will they be pets or killed to eat?

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9 months 3 weeks ago #556085 by [email protected]
for meat mostly.
But wanting a small well tempered breed.

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9 months 2 weeks ago #556090 by LongRidge
Welcome to LSB :-). We at LongRidge just out of Brightwater have been here for 30 years, trying various animals and stocking rates, and whether we can "finish" the animals or sell them as "stores". You have lots of considerations to make, so good on you for asking. I will try to answer some.
1. Do you have access to cattle yards with an unloading ramp, and preferably a loading ramp? Cattle yards have to be much higher and stronger than gates and pallets tied together. We recently had a very quiet Angus steer of about 18 months that suddenly decided that he was able to fly. He jumped out of the paddock away from the good grass and his friends, and decided to sleep on the road. A gate was opened to get him back in, but rather than go through the gate he decided to jump into the paddock. Then he decided to explore the neighbours orchard - fortunately the apples had been picked. So very carefully he was got into the 2 meter high steel Pratley yards. The freezing works could not take him so he had to be killed then and there. Fortunately we could find a butcher to do the job, but we had to buy another freezer because the 3 others were full of planned kills. The lesson is that tame cattle can become frisky, so you need the facilities in case :-(.
2. Do you have enough water for cattle? This year has been very wet. I usually have to obtain stock water from out of one of my tanks or springs and carry it in 20 litre plastic bottles, 10 bottles at a time to fill the water trough for the 10 cattle for the day.
3. Do you have irrigation? Grass and pasture needs chemicals to grow, and regular water is the most important. On the spot that I have tested, we get about 6 times more grass with plenty of water, with no extra added chemicals. Thus, I have to run few enough stock to be able to feed them over summer and winter, and make hay when there is too much grass growth. Rank and seeded grass is hugely less nutritious than short pasture.
4. Are the other soil chemicals correct for pasture growth? Nelson soils used to grow either Totara or beech forests rather than grassland. Thus what is needed for pasture, or apple orchard, or market garden are the chemicals they need in the correct proportions. For us, totara seedlings are weeds, but beech won't grow. 20 km away it is the other way around. I have to add sulphate to get the clover to grow rather than the gorse. I have to add some nitrate to get the grass to grow, I need lots of lime to make the soil acidity correct for grass, I have to add potassium /kaline, and a lot of phosphate. Nitrate, phosphate and sulphate are the building blocks of proteins, so without these you have unnutritious pasture. Nelson soils are very deficient in selenium, cobalt and copper so they have to be supplemented somehow. But if the land has been an orchard there may be too much copper in it for sheep to be healthy.
5. Fencing. Cattle are hugely easier to keep in except when they learn that they can fly, than are sheep or goats. We started with sheep because the steepness of our land and lack of drinking water could not handle cattle. With cattle they can be kept in behind a single electrified wire running at low power. Sheep can sometimes be kept in behind a3 hot wires running at 6000 volts. This is enough to kill anything that gets tangled in the wire for more than a minute or so, including small children. With the fantastic sheep fences that I put up, I have had to go over most of them with sheep netting to keep the sheep and goats in. They put their head between wires and push until the wires are loose enough for then to get through. Cattle must have a hot wire around the fenceline to stop them rubbing on the posts.
6. Breed of cattle. I've had bad experiences with frisky Galloways and Ayreshires, so don't run them any longer. A small 300 kg bovine is just about as dangerous as a 600 kg bovine, so I like Red Devons but not South Devons, Herefords but not Limousins. The Angus that I have had have been a bit more frisky than I like. Jersey heifers have a good temperament but sometimes taste different than other beef. Jersey steers can be frisky. Fresians are generally good temperament. Here, anything that does not quieten down within a couple of months of being with our quiet cattle gets promptly turned into meat. Also, fliers and also those that get a sudden change of temperament.
7. Numbers. On 3 hectares I would run 2 weaned calves and 2 one year olds, Plan to kill the one year olds when they get to about 30 months, but buy 2 calves to replace them before the old ones have been got rid of. You cannot sell homekilled meat, and must own the animal for 30 days before homekill. Cattle and deer must be registered with NAIT and have their ear tag.
8. Health requirements and age of kill can wait.

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9 months 2 weeks ago #556091 by tonybaker
If you have not had animals before, I would ask around to see if anyone will pay for grazing. As you get used to having a few stock you can slowly take over. Alternatively, if you have good fencing and a well set up water supply, consider a few Dorper/Wiltshire sheep. They are easy care and you can sell lambs and eat a few. Don't worry about the technical side of things like soil fertility etc, grass will grow if it has rain. As you are not raising animals for the commercial market, you can be more relaxed about things like leaving the ram in with the ewes etc.. Definitely don't graze horses, llamas, alpacas or other exotic breeds.
Now is the peak time for grass growth so an early start on grazing or contract baleage/hay making would be in order. Don't leave the grass to grow too long or you will have a bit of a fire risk come Christmas!
Keep it simple at first.

5 acres, Ferguson 35X and implements, Hanmay pto shredder, BMW Z3, Countax ride on mower, chooks, Dorper and Wiltshire sheep. Bosky wood burning central heating stove and radiators. Retro caravan. Growing our own food and preserving it. Small vineyard, crap wine. :)
The following user(s) said Thank You: LongRidge

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