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I've been looking into cattle. Ill be headed off to college this fall, but I hope to work out my schedule to be either tues and thurs. or monday, wends, and friday. The other 4 or 5 day I will be working on the farm. Ill be home everyday regardless as I am going to be commuting since its gonna be 3500 per year to commute and 18000 a year to stay there.

So basically, I am trying to decide how many cattle I need to get and if I should get a certain age. I have already done some research and getting 3-5 year old cattle would be a cheaper way to go and a way that I could get 4-5 more calves out of them. If pasture allows, I wouldn't mind holding back all heifers for the first few years to increase herd size. I won't be making anything and will in fact be losing on liquidation, but net value will go up a lot more. Also, I pretty well have a max of 5 cows for now. There is only enough pasture for 20 and dad wants to have the majority to help pay some bills. Eventually we will turn some fields back into pasture like they were before. Expenses will be figured as a percentage so if I have 5, then I pay 25% of production costs. We aren't going to count labor as we are assuming that we will both be taking care of them about the same. Thatll be a big plus when one of us isn't around. I pretty well need to put a cap of about 10k on how much I am spending on initial investment. Id rather not take out a loan right now and I hope to not have any college expenses. As I said before, I wouldn't mind holding back all heifers to help increase herd size for a few years since Ill be living at home anyways and expenses will be minimal. I should be able to afford not getting any income off them for awhile since Ill be working on the side.
What do you all think? How many cattle should I be able to handle? I know with hogs that it wasn't much harder to take care of 20 as it was 5. I am assuming cattle are the same way. As far as how much land it'll it take, growth is going to be slow enough that a solution could be figured out pretty quickly like fencing in stalks and such. My biggest question is probably how old should I be getting these cows/heifers? In the long run, bred heifers may be cheaper if I am getting 10 calves for 2.2k initial cost as compared to 5 calves for maybe 1.6-1.8k for a older cow. All suggestions are welcome and whatever the solution, I want to get started farming now. Itll be a rough road for the next few years trying to get established.
 

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Let's clarify a couple things first

10 calves for $2200? If that's the case just order buy for feedlots, you'll own the college by the end of the first term, lol.

5 calves for $1600-1800 instead of 1 cow for the same money? $1600-1800 for a bred cow makes sense the other doesn't to me.

Where do you live and what kind of calves are you buying. The numbers I'm seeing across North America are quite a bit different than what you quote.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Let's clarify a couple things first

10 calves for $2200? If that's the case just order buy for feedlots, you'll own the college by the end of the first term, lol.

5 calves for $1600-1800 instead of 1 cow for the same money? $1600-1800 for a bred cow makes sense the other doesn't to me.

Where do you live and what kind of calves are you buying. The numbers I'm seeing across North America are quite a bit different than what you quote.
LOL, sorry. I really made that confusing. I meant 2200 for a bred heifer that I would get 10 calves out of. 1600-1800 for a used cow that I might get 4-5 more calves out of. Long term, itd make more sense to me to buy younger heifers as the capital cost devided out between the calves would be $220 as compared to $360 with a 1800$ cow and 5 calves out of her. These numbers aren't spot on or nothing, but just estimates. Sorry for the confusion. BTW, I live in north east missouri
 

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If I had it to do over again and 5 was the starting number i would try to buy maybe 10 ten bred hfrs then cull the late ones the wild ones the ones with the poorest calves and of course any open in the fall. Take as much of that money I could pay down the banker(money from the 15 hd) and have 5 **** good cows with less debt and a great start to a good credit rating.
 

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buy the cows. they will purduce a big calf with out any trouble. They are proven. Heifers may be poor milkers, not want there calf, trouble calving, trouble rebreeding. With the cull cow market so high, any cow that is not up to standards you can sell and get most of your money back.were a heifer cost more and is lighter if you need to cull her.
 

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buy the cows. they will purduce a big calf with out any trouble. They are proven. Heifers may be poor milkers, not want there calf, trouble calving, trouble rebreeding. With the cull cow market so high, any cow that is not up to standards you can sell and get most of your money back.were a heifer cost more and is lighter if you need to cull her.
I'd go with the cows too. You may get a couple less years out of them but you should have a lot less problems calving and getting cows to mother their calves. If you have little experience with cattle an older cow would make more sense too. They mostly take of themselves and the calf. Heifers can be a huge PITA.

Either way you go the cow calf business looks pretty decent for the next few years. Good luck.
 

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Either way you go the cow calf business looks pretty decent for the next few years. Good luck.

**** you jinxed it. Only a year ago everyone said grain prices should stay strong for next ten years or more. Anyway good luck with the cows.
 

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If you're gonna go cows you have to go to a complete herd dispersal and make sure its someone hows retiring , otherwise you buying someones headache.
 

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Are you sure you want to be married??? Just askin!
To the cows or the wife? Love my wife, but there are days the cows are just nicer. Believe me, both can be high maintenance.:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sounds like older cows would be a better way to go. I probably will try to buy local from people I know. I would worry about dropping 2000$ on a cow that was culled for a reason.
 

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second calf heifers, cows that are 4-5 yrs old, the comments made about mothering and milking, as well as first calf heifer issues , steer towards proven stock.. buying from a herd dispersal or someone retiring are great ideas, be picky and get quality and breeding if you can, do some research on breeds and genetics, as well as choosing animals that are not flighty and wild, calm and docile are important, if you can't keep them in the fence they are not worth having, and if they chase you down if you come near it could be an issue..
 

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in the long term, heifers are a way better investment, especially on that few animals. When I expanded my herd 9 years ago I 1/3 heifers and 2/3 cows, and even out of good dispersals most of the cows were gone within 3 years (but did leave me with some very good replacement heifers in the mean time....). 9 calf crops later I still have 4 of the first 12 heifers and 2 were just culled last year.

that being said, 1800 for a cow or 2200 for a heifer is a guarantee to loose money at cows for years to come. I can't see calves holding $900 for more than 2 years. Hope you have a useable tractor and handling system on farm already. startup / yardage costs on anything under 100 head will suck up every last penny you make
 

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Discussion Starter #14
in the long term, heifers are a way better investment, especially on that few animals. When I expanded my herd 9 years ago I 1/3 heifers and 2/3 cows, and even out of good dispersals most of the cows were gone within 3 years (but did leave me with some very good replacement heifers in the mean time....). 9 calf crops later I still have 4 of the first 12 heifers and 2 were just culled last year.

that being said, 1800 for a cow or 2200 for a heifer is a guarantee to loose money at cows for years to come. I can't see calves holding $900 for more than 2 years. Hope you have a useable tractor and handling system on farm already. startup / yardage costs on anything under 100 head will suck up every last penny you make
As I said, I won't have any costs except consumables like feed, pasture, fuel, etc and capital costs. I may pay some land rent, just depends on how dad wants to do it. Itll all be based on % for how much I pay since all cattle will be pooled together and either of us could be taking care of them. I won't be able to really start increasing herd for another 4 years after I am outta college.
 

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I commend you on understanding the sacrifices that are involved in starting out your own enterprise. It'll someday pay off, but it's good to see young men out there that understand a little planning, asking the right questions to the right people, and knowing that you'll probably be working for nothing now for something later. It renews my hopes for the future of agriculture.

Good luck to you, I hope I works out for you.
 

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you have already made a decision from your comments, i won't have any costs.... except... i may pay.... that is a sure way to lose your assssss. be realistic, do the math and sharpen your pencil. just cause you are there, does not mean your labor and time are free. there are unseen costs, losses some years, vet bills etc. although you and dad have an understanding, do you really have one? is there and implied meaning to all of his comments? if it does not work out who bears the costs? just what are you getting into. i am all for hard work and getting ahead, been there and doing it still, but be aware the more knowledge you have about the costs of cattle and the time involved will get you closer to a realistic scenario. if you cannot start to increase the herd size for 4 years, what will the market be doing then? will that money invested in cattle be paying any dividend at all? or will the costs and value be eaten up in market fluctuations. if you are determined to go ahead, maybe consider if you may have a local market for organic raised beef, seek out someone who wants this and set a price and timeline for delivery based on known costs and returns. nothing like handraised beef on th bbq. i ran a purebred herd of 250 head, and had my own feedlot facility that could handle 2700 head for years. sometimes the cattle carried the farming side, sometimes the farm carried the cattle. always had chores and maintenance to do. everday of the year. i did have the option of lower feed costs and onsite processing of the feed, dependent on market value for crop. you can grow a good herd, cull and sell off the increase etc. , but the market still dictates in the end what you will net..
 

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you have already made a decision from your comments, i won't have any costs.... except... i may pay.... that is a sure way to lose your assssss. be realistic, do the math and sharpen your pencil. just cause you are there, does not mean your labor and time are free. there are unseen costs, losses some years, vet bills etc. although you and dad have an understanding, do you really have one? is there and implied meaning to all of his comments? if it does not work out who bears the costs? just what are you getting into. i am all for hard work and getting ahead, been there and doing it still, but be aware the more knowledge you have about the costs of cattle and the time involved will get you closer to a realistic scenario. if you cannot start to increase the herd size for 4 years, what will the market be doing then? will that money invested in cattle be paying any dividend at all? or will the costs and value be eaten up in market fluctuations. if you are determined to go ahead, maybe consider if you may have a local market for organic raised beef, seek out someone who wants this and set a price and timeline for delivery based on known costs and returns. nothing like handraised beef on th bbq. i ran a purebred herd of 250 head, and had my own feedlot facility that could handle 2700 head for years. sometimes the cattle carried the farming side, sometimes the farm carried the cattle. always had chores and maintenance to do. everday of the year. i did have the option of lower feed costs and onsite processing of the feed, dependent on market value for crop. you can grow a good herd, cull and sell off the increase etc. , but the market still dictates in the end what you will net..
The reason a lot of that stuff is being left out as of now is because the basics are trying to be figured. I expect to have losses and not much for gains. As far as who covers the costs if something goes wrong, I cover my cows, and he covers his. As far as machinery, he does all buying parts, but I do the labor in fixing them. Yes, I haven't been including labor in this forum, but I have a much more detailed balance sheets that are based off estimates. Using that, I can kind of figure out how much "unexpected costs" are going to affect me. Not that a cow dying every now and then is really "unexpected" though. There is a lot of information being left out here though.

My apologies if I contradict myself on here. Half the time I forget what I say and I may learn something new that changes my mind on a subject. I try not to do that to much, but it happens I suppose...
 

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I commend you on understanding the sacrifices that are involved in starting out your own enterprise. It'll someday pay off, but it's good to see young men out there that understand a little planning, asking the right questions to the right people, and knowing that you'll probably be working for nothing now for something later. It renews my hopes for the future of agriculture.

Good luck to you, I hope I works out for you.
Thank you. It is nice to get advice from people who are more cattle oriented. We use to be pretty big hog farmers (outside, not confinement) but the market crashed and dad and I both got out last year before losing any more money. He had quite a few cattle when I was little, but several thousand hogs took most of the time and he got rid of the cattle. So I guess I am saying he knows quite a bit about cows, but it was never a passion or a thing he paid a lot of attention too. And besides, quite a bit has changed since then and most of you guys who are still raising cattle know the ropes much much better.
 

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Well good luck LRShooter though cattle are a lot of work and not many get rich from them it can be a very rewarding life. My son and I run between 200 to 250 head of cows as a very family orientated sideline from our grain farm. Cattle people in general are a very down to earth trustworthy group and most will try to help young farmers. It sounds like your going at this the right way by starting small and learning as you go and also you'll find out on a smaller way if your Dad and you can work togeather and learn to give and take and still remain friends. My only advice with cattle is not to borrow money for cows that you can't afford to lose the cattle market can change with the stroke of a political pen.
 

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the fact you left out some details and have done some homework as to outside numbers is commendable. i do agree that cattlemen are a trustworthy group, and i am sure many will assist and advise you in your choices. even the fact you are asking for advice is a plus. if you really like cattle, it is a worthy occupation that can pay off. i am not trying to disuade you from going forth, just trying to help you consider, and it sounds like you are.. best of success with your decisions, but as i have always said to my family and friends involved in agriculture; do not fall in love with iron or stock to the point you cloud reason and economics..
 
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