Always Think of Beef Cattle Farming as a Business
Beef cattle farming is a business that continues to grow around the world. There is definitely a demand for quality meat out there. Some operations have been in the same families for generations. They proudly pass down their land and their knowledge in order to be a part of it all. For others though, the idea of being a beef farmer is something they are brand new too.
Farming may be the answer to your desire to make a little extra money. In addition to a great life style there is some additional money to be found when you raise quality cattle and then market them in an avenue to realize their maximum value. Many individuals just want to get away from the city and a hectic lifestyle. They find the country air refreshing and cattle farming to be a way for them to add additional income to their life style.
There is plenty that goes on behind the scenes though when it comes to beef cattle farming. You don’t just turn the cows loose on your land, fatten them up, and then sell them for a profit. Learning more about what goes on can help you to decide if you should pursue it or not. It can also give you as a member of the general public a good idea of why beef prices can change so often.
Beef Cattle Farming Needs both Quality and Numbers
Raising quality cattle is vital to the success of such farming methods. The need to have more cattle is also there. This is why there are plans in place to get breeding done as effectively as possible. The males with the best genetic qualities are the ones allowed to mate with the females. The goal is to have at least one calf per female per season. Therefore, properly managing the heifers is part of the basis for making this work.
A combination of natural reproduction, embryo transfer and artificial insemination is used in improving the beef cattle herd. Thanks to the technology we have today, we don’t have to rely solely upon nature to get the job done. Using a variety of tools, heifers can be successfully impregnated with the sperm of the best bulls available without the two of them ever being in contact with each other.
Offering quality land and feed for the cattle is important to their overall development. The females will have healthier offspring when their own needs are met. In turn, the young will grow up to be healthy and to have their own quality offspring. The meat from well fed cattle is better and so there is a higher profit earned from them.
When reproduction is well managed, the beef farmer won’t have to spend profits to purchase replacement heifers. Yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t any expenses to cover. For example there is the cost of all the feed that the cattle will need for survival. Feed supplements are needed on most beef cattle enterprises and can be expensive but today they are a common part of the process.
There is also the cost of routine care for the young cattle. Vaccinations can ensure they remain healthy. It can also prevent the spread of viruses that can kill large numbers of cattle. Should that occur, the financial security for a beef cattle farmer can be on shaky ground. Combination vaccines should be used when possible to cut down on costs. It will also cut down on the amount of time it takes for the young cattle to get immunized.
In the past, reducing nursing time for the young has occurred on beef cattle farms. However, studies show that this causes stress for the young. It can result in them not growing as large as they should during the first two years of life. The risk of serious health problems also increases.
Possible Calving Problems
Should nature be the determining factor when it comes to the birth of calves? Many farmers believe it is acceptable to intervene and to lend a hand when a heifer is having difficulties delivering on her own. This may end up saving the life of both the mother and her young offspring.
More often, it is the first time mothers that need the most assistance with giving birth. The labor can last two or three times longer for them. However, complications can arise with any calf birth even if they have been successful with doing it on their own many times in the past.
Any time that a young calf is being born tail first, there is a need for intervention. This process is one that not everyone has the skills for so a vet may need to be called to the scene. There is limited time to help the calf in such a situation so you need to be able to make quick decisions. What happens is that the calf will start to come out backwards. This process puts pressure on the umbilical cord as it does so.
Then there is a limited supply of blood going from the mother to the calf. This can result in death or serious brain injury. The calf can also be in the birth canal with fluids around the mouth and nose. They can drown in them if they aren’t taken out of the mother immediately. The calf has to be taken out of the body extremely quickly if there is a chance of it surviving once the blood supply from the umbilical cord has been cut off.
The young calves will have to be further evaluated. Those that are doing well with their mothers should be left alone other than for checkups and when it is time for vaccinations. Those that are born underweight or that don’t seem to be growing properly may need more one on one care from humans. The goal is to ensure all of the cattle are very healthy and developing properly regardless of their age.
Yet it is especially necessary for the young so that serious health problems can be eliminated. If the calf can’t grow to be big and strong it won’t be of very good quality. If the calf is female, it may have a very difficult time giving birth when it is fully mature. Every effort should be taken to help pave the way for a healthy life and development to their full potential from the very start for all of the cattle.
What is also interesting is that a difficult birthing experience for a heifer can result in her being less likely to become pregnant in the future. Since you do want all of the females in the herd that are mature to have a calf annually, helping with the birthing process can increase the chances of that happening. There are tools available that can be used to help the calf be born without causing additional stress to the mother.
Studies show that to prevent calves from being born at night, offer food at that time to the heifers. How this works isn’t really known, but there is enough research out there to indicate it does result in fewer calves being born at night. Since supervision during the calving season is likely to take place during the day, you can reduce mortality rates with this simple but effective trick. Starting this process of night feeding 2 or 3 weeks before calving is supposed to start is a good idea.
The young calves are the future for any cattle farm. It is important to document the number of births and the number of deaths that occur. Look for patterns if you have high mortality rates. You need to be able to find those contributing factors so that they can be reduced or eliminated before the following calving season. The problem could be with the bulls used for mating, the food sources, vaccines, a virus found on the land where they are at, and even the weather.
By documenting as much information as you can, you can find those links that result in the calves not surviving. The goal should be to see as many of them growing rapidly and gaining weight consistently. If that isn’t happening with almost all of the calves then there is a serious situation that needs to be reviewed further.
While a great deal of attention is spent focusing on the calves and the heifers, the bulls also need quality care. They are the males that offer the sperm for the young calves to be created. Genetic testing of these animals is a good idea if you are going to use them to breed a large number of heifers. Ensuring that the bulls aren’t genetically linked to serious health problems is important. Otherwise future generations of cattle can end up with those same genetic problems.
Bulls need a quality diet in order to grow like they should and to produce enough sperm for the mating season. It is a good idea to keep young bulls away from the older and more experienced bulls. Otherwise it often will reduce the rate of their growth. It will also cause them to become fully mature later than they normally would.
A diet that is carefully balanced for the needs of each bull is very important. Adequate feed of the right protein should be a huge part of their diet and ensuring they make the right gains. On average, the bulls need to gain 2 pounds a day after they are weaned. This should continue until they are about 1,000 pounds. Monitoring growth will help to determine if the diet plan is working or if it needs to be modified.
With the technology available for artificial insemination it is now possible to impregnate a large number of heifers with only a handful of bulls. This is a very cost effective part on many modern cattle farms. Many agree that the overall quality of the genetics from the males is more important than the number of them available. The number of bulls to have on the farm is a personal decision though.
Other than breeding season, it is important to keep the bulls away from the heifers. They should be separated by pens with no chance of being able to come into contact with each other. The use of a high voltage electrical fence may be necessary to give a strong message that they are to remain separated. Bulls can be very powerful and aggressive so you must teach them to stay in the pens where they are to remain.
The ongoing health of the bulls is just as important during the non breeding season as when they are mating. They need to have a quality diet, room to graze, and regular checkups. This will ensure they are ready to go at the peak of their game for the next mating season.
Adequate food for the other cattle is very important to evaluate too. Today many cattle farmers understand the importance of protecting their land. If the cattle graze the forage too close to the roots then the land may be useless in the future for grazing. This is why they often have sections in place. By rotating the areas where the cattle can graze, they give each area enough time to rejuvenate. Then the farmer can continue to use that land for grazing at different points in time.
There are plenty of different growth strategies that a beef farmer can implement. Having a great strategy in place is important because that is what will determine the quality of the cattle. It will also determine the longevity of the operation. Therefore the big picture needs to be evaluated – not just right now and how to make the most money in the market right now.
Raising beef cattle requires one to stay up to date on the analysis of different types of feed needed for the herd. The type of environment where the cattle are grazing is part of the determining factors as well. Supplements can be used to help the heifers gain weight and to get the right balance of nutrition. Yet supplements can be very expensive so you will want to use them only when necessary. Otherwise they are cutting deeply into their profits.
Nature has a way of throwing things off course, so a beef cattle farm manager has to be ready for them. When there is too much heat and a drought sets in there may not be enough food on the land. Then more supplements have to be offered in order to keep the herd healthy. Additional water needs to be in place too so that they can survive. The extra heat can reduce the chances of pregnancy for the heifers. It can also reduce the strength and the size of the young calves.
The size of the herd on any farming operation is another very important issue to take into consideration. Of course the available space for grazing and living quarters needs to be taken into consideration. There are areas where these animals are packed too closely together and they should have some breathing room. That will reduce their stress and help them to be very healthy animals.
It is perfectly understandable that beef farmers will increase the number of animals in the herd when prices for beef are high. This is a great method for making more money and keeping profits high. It can help them to have some funding put away for business expenses or when they have a bad season. There are many highs and lows with the cattle industry so being prepared is important.
When beef prices are low, it can be more cost effective for a cattle farmer to reduce the number in the herd. That way the cost of feed and other related expenses is less. They can tighten their belts and at least break even when they do sell their cattle. When you are involved with any farming business, you have to stay focused on what is going on out there.
Many cattle farmers find it is easier for them if they just remain consistent with their herd number. They feel it will all balance out in the end and some years they will make lots of money, others they will make a little bit. They will see years when they break even and also some when they have spent more than they earned. Yet they are confident that through proper management they will be successful in the long run.
What is interesting though when you analyze data regarding beef cattle farming you will notice that at the beginning and ending points of decade markers, the prices are higher? However, in the middle of the decades they seem to drop quite significantly. This type of pattern can help a farmer to make decisions based on what is likely to occur with pricing in the future as well.
When you are managing a cattle operation there will be occasional issues with herd health that need to be addressed. Should the cattle become ill, whatever is causing the problem could spread like a wildfire. It can be very expensive to take care of a large number of sick cattle. The illness may affect their ability to successfully breed in the future. In many instances, the illness may result in the death of a significant number of the cattle.
As I mentioned, proper vaccinations are important when it comes to healthy cattle. While the cost of offering them can add up, you are walking a dangerous line if you have a beef cattle enterprise and your animals aren’t vaccinated. That is the case with organic farm animals and it is why the meat is so expensive. They have a much higher cost of production and need to sell for a much higher amount than regular commercial cattle in order for the beef cattle farmers to make their money back.
The government of the United States isn’t leaving it up to chance when it comes to viruses in the cattle industry. They have guidelines in place that need to be followed. This is why there are restrictions against imported cattle. That is also why they have feeding controls in place. The goal is to ensure the cattle are well cared for and that the people that will consume them aren’t at risk.
An emergency plan of action should be in place in case you end up with sick cattle. They should be separated from those that are healthy. The isolation will help to prevent more from becoming ill. Keep in mind that with some types of viruses there are incubation periods. This means some cattle may not show symptoms of illness yet but they are going to in a few days. Careful observation is essential to keep the problem from getting out of control.
There is no denying that the cattle farming industry is one that we rely on for a variety of needs. Most people around the world do eat beef that comes from cattle. To keep up with the demand, new methods of raising cattle so that the meat is delicious are introduced. At the same time, the goal is to raise production and to cut overhead expenses.
The world of beef cattle farming has certainly changed over the course of time. It will be interesting to see what develops relating to it in the future. One thing is for certain though; consuming beef is going to continue. With policies in place for proper raising of the animals and safe processing there is less of a risk involved with consuming meat than in the past.
There are some ethical issues that will always surround raising farm animals. You do have a part of the human population that refuse to eat foods that come from animals. They don’t feel it is right to raise cattle for the production of meat. They also don’t agree with the methods that are used to fatten up the cattle. Yet there are enough people out there willing to overlook those issues in order to have the meat they love to eat.
For beef cattle farmers, it is a way of life that they are fine tuning. They want to get the most out of their efforts. Being able to make money while living off the land and raising animals is very appealing. Most farmers can’t imagine doing anything else. Anyone who thinks beef cattle farming is an easy type of business to manage though needs to walk a mile in their shoes.