Grants mini herd

Grant

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They likely suggested larger cattle for resale. It’s easy to take an angus steer to the sale barn and sell, the minis will sell, but deeply discounted. Most people think more is better, when sometimes more is just more. I don’t want 800 lbs of beef at one time either. I want to drop 4-500 lbs, then I can eat it in a year and not waste a bunch of it.
 

410farmer

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They likely suggested larger cattle for resale. It’s easy to take an angus steer to the sale barn and sell, the minis will sell, but deeply discounted. Most people think more is better, when sometimes more is just more. I don’t want 800 lbs of beef at one time either. I want to drop 4-500 lbs, then I can eat it in a year and not waste a bunch of it.
After talking with my wife, we are going to try it both ways. Regardless we want the minis as pets. For their first couple years untill they can breed we will just get a couple steer crosses and raise them during the summer. In my area there’s a woman selling mini Hereford calves for 1500-3000k
 

410farmer

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I haven’t even talked about the ease of handling the smaller animals. 🙂
As a newbie to cattle that was in the forefront for minis. My wife don’t even want us to get a bull she try to reason with economics lol
I’m really jealous of that white park cross you have, ones I’ve seen locally look horrible and huge. Won’t he get to a fairly hefty size
 

Grant

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He’s a mini, but he will get to 1200-1400 probably. Much smaller than the 1 ton size of the fulls.
 

farmerjan

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If he is a white park x wagyu, how do you say he is a mini???? Did I miss something in a post? Both those breeds are "full size" cattle.

How old are your heifers? Do you have a source for a few feeders until you start to get a regular routine, and supply of calves? 8-9 acres is not going to be enough if you are trying to mostly pasture raise. Especially if you are wanting to try to finish the beef on grass as much as possible. You will have 4 "sets" of cattle, not 3. Cow with calves, weaned calves that were last years calves, long yearlings that will be the calves from the previous year, and the 2+ yr olds that will be getting finished.
Cattle do not marble good, until they get some age and maturity. Wagyu also take longer to finish to marble properly. And requires a bit more intense feeding. You will be killing in the 25-30 month age, or older. If you want any thing like t-bone etc. they have to be killed before 30 months in order to follow the federal regulations for possible BSE which is what causes the Mad cow and possible Creutzfeldt - Jacob disease. Sure, your animals could be totally "clean" but if they are butchered in any inspected facility, you cannot get any cuts with bones that are part of the spine if you kill after 30 months. I do NY strips and filet instead of T-bones to not have to worry about the BSE rule of age; but I do like to get backbones for cooking like ribs so try to usually kill before 30 months.

I have beef in the freezer that is VACUUM PACKED that is several years old. Done right, it will keep for years in the freezer. If I find myself with some extra left over beef and another that is getting ready to be killed, I take it to an old order Mennonite, that makes bologna, beef snack sticks, fantastic hot dogs, chipped beef out of roasts etc. It is not cheap, but I like knowing where my food comes from. There are places that do just that.

Are you equipped to handle a young bull that has nothing to do for months at a time? A 1200 lb bull is nothing to sneeze at. Most of our bulls will hit the 8-900 lbs by a year and most of our mature bulls weigh in the 17-1900 lbs. Mostly angus. So a 1200-1400 lb bull is closer to normal size than mini. 1400 is not ALOT smaller than a full size bull at nearly a ton. You will not be able to stop a 1400 bull any easier than a 18-2000 lb bull. If you let him run with the cows full time, you will have calves at random times. Cows can get bred back sooner than they should and calve at less than 12 month (yearly) interval. That is hard on a young cow, but not as big deal for a mature 5-6 year old animal. They are as mature as they will be by then, but as a 2-3 yr old., they are growing and really do need to be not get bred back too soon, so that they can carry a pregnancy, and feed a nursing calf, AND STILL GROW themselves. You will need a very secure pen/pasture, to contain the bull because when he gets a sniff of a female in heat across the fence, he can very easily go to her. Even really hot electric sometimes does not stop them.

You will be feeding an animal for many months when he is not earning his keep. That can make some of them very grumpy.... it is simply frustration.

Whatever you do, do not make the bull a pet. Respect him, keep him friendly, but do not treat him like a puppy dog. YOU have to be the head of the "herd" ..... they have to respect you. Do not deal with the bull from face/head on. Halter breaking and all is fine. But do it from the side. A bull establishes his position/dominance from a point of pushing. They will hurt you if they start to get pushy. Same as with a ram or buck goat.

Also, be careful about breeding "mini breeds" too young. Make sure they have enough growth. There are alot of breeding problems with mini's and fertility is one. Regardless, of what all the web sites profess, there are definitely some breeding concerns. I have done AI for over 40 years. I have seen it in all breeds and sizes, but the mini's have some unique problems. Let their bodies get some maturity or you will be pulling calves and losing animals. We have to pull calves sometimes in the full size cattle, especially if you do not pay attention to the crosses you are making. Highlands are a naturally a smaller breed. You need to be very aware of what you are using to breed these crossed females. Do you know much about the bulls breeding besides that he is a cross? We use bulls that have genetics for "easy calving" for our first calf heifers. This is still not a guarantee that the calves will be small but it is a better chance that the resulting calves will be smaller and easier for a first time heifer to have it. You try to get the odds in your favor. You also have to be careful of the dwarfism gene and breeding animals that have recessives.

The pictures look like some nice animals. They are cute.
 
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410farmer

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If he is a white park x wagyu, how do you say he is a mini???? Did I miss something in a post? Both those breeds are "full size" cattle.

How old are your heifers? Do you have a source for a few feeders until you start to get a regular routine, and supply of calves? 8-9 acres is not going to be enough if you are trying to mostly pasture raise. Especially if you are wanting to try to finish the beef on grass as much as possible. You will have 4 "sets" of cattle, not 3. Cow with calves, weaned calves that were last years calves, long yearlings that will be the calves from the previous year, and the 2+ yr olds that will be getting finished.
Cattle do not marble good, until they get some age and maturity. Wagyu also take longer to finish to marble properly. And requires a bit more intense feeding. You will be killing in the 25-30 month age, or older. If you want any thing like t-bone etc. they have to be killed before 30 months in order to follow the federal regulations for possible BSE which is what causes the Mad cow and possible Creutzfeldt - Jacob disease. Sure, your animals could be totally "clean" but if they are butchered in any inspected facility, you cannot get any cuts with bones that are part of the spine if you kill after 30 months. I do NY strips and filet instead of T-bones to not have to worry about the BSE rule of age; but I do like to get backbones for cooking like ribs so try to usually kill before 30 months.

I have beef in the freezer that is VACUUM PACKED that is several years old. Done right, it will keep for years in the freezer. If I find myself with some extra left over beef and another that is getting ready to be killed, I take it to an old order Mennonite, that makes bologna, beef snack sticks, fantastic hot dogs, chipped beef out of roasts etc. It is not cheap, but I like knowing where my food comes from. There are places that do just that.

Are you equipped to handle a young bull that has nothing to do for months at a time? A 1200 lb bull is nothing to sneeze at. Most of our bulls will hit the 8-900 lbs by a year and most of our mature bulls weigh in the 17-1900 lbs. Mostly angus. So a 1200-1400 lb bull is closer to normal size than mini. 1400 is not ALOT smaller than a full size bull at nearly a ton. You will not be able to stop a 1400 bull any easier than a 18-2000 lb bull. If you let him run with the cows full time, you will have calves at random times. Cows can get bred back sooner than they should and calve at less than 12 month (yearly) interval. That is hard on a young cow, but not as big deal for a mature 5-6 year old animal. They are as mature as they will be by then, but as a 2-3 yr old., they are growing and really do need to be not get bred back too soon, so that they can carry a pregnancy, and feed a nursing calf, AND STILL GROW themselves. You will need a very secure pen/pasture, to contain the bull because when he gets a sniff of a female in heat across the fence, he can very easily go to her. Even really hot electric sometimes does not stop them.

You will be feeding an animal for many months when he is not earning his keep. That can make some of them very grumpy.... it is simply frustration.

Whatever you do, do not make the bull a pet. Respect him, keep him friendly, but do not treat him like a puppy dog. YOU have to be the head of the "herd" ..... they have to respect you. Do not deal with the bull from face/head on. Halter breaking and all is fine. But do it from the side. A bull establishes his position/dominance from a point of pushing. They will hurt you if they start to get pushy. Same as with a ram or buck goat.

Also, be careful about breeding "mini breeds" too young. Make sure they have enough growth. There are alot of breeding problems with mini's and fertility is one. Regardless, of what all the web sites profess, there are definitely some breeding concerns. I have done AI for over 40 years. I have seen it in all breeds and sizes, but the mini's have some unique problems. Let their bodies get some maturity or you will be pulling calves and losing animals. We have to pull calves sometimes in the full size cattle, especially if you do not pay attention to the crosses you are making. Highlands are a naturally a smaller breed. You need to be very aware of what you are using to breed these crossed females. Do you know much about the bulls breeding besides that he is a cross? We use bulls that have genetics for "easy calving" for our first calf heifers. This is still not a guarantee that the calves will be small but it is a better chance that the resulting calves will be smaller and easier for a first time heifer to have it. You try to get the odds in your favor. You also have to be careful of the dwarfism gene and breeding animals that have recessives.

The pictures look like some nice animals. They are cute.
One of the things I love about livestock is if you change your mind on what cattle you want and can’t find a buyer you could always butcher lol. With 8-9 acres of good pasture and with the numbers your referring to that’s around 10 or so max of cattle. “The internet says” minis tend to eat around 50-65 percent of a regular sized cow. With AUM of these lower weight cattle and good rotational grazing seems possible to me. On paper that is
 

farmerjan

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I agree totally that you can eat your animals. The biggest plus to having them. They can do your "lawn mowing" and clear out the areas of overgrowth. They add fertilizer back into the soil. They can be a calming influence and great company, fun to watch and interact with. But they still require proper care and feed and if you want to really produce a product that you can sell on a small scale, but have a quality product, like meat, there are things that you HAVE to do to make sure the quality is there, and then a regular quantity in order to have regular sales. 8-9 acres of good pasture will handle 10 head.... but that is not 12 months of the year. You will have to rotate the pastures in order to give time/ a rest period, for regenerative regrowth. Even if the mini's eat less, even at 50% of a large breed, a growing young animal will need better quality grass or added feed, in order to grow properly.
Here in Va, in the western part nearer to the mountains, we figure 1.5 to 2 acres per cow/calf pair/ average, in summer for grazing. That's good grass. That's about 6 months worth all according to the weather; heat, rain, etc..... So you either reduce the stocking rate, and do some stock piling of grass in order to extend the grazing; or you feed hay and some sort of a protein supplement. East of here they deal with more heat, so not sure that the grazing is that much longer, but maybe a little different in the when, with some loss of grazing in the hottest part of the summer, and grazing earlier in the spring and lasting longer in the fall.
Rotational grazing is great, and we do quite a bit. It takes time to get the grasses to where you can utilize them efficiently, and time to learn how to judge the grass and when to rotate. It is a "learn on the job" thing and that means that it was for us too. On paper, we should be able to run more cows than what we have, and we feel like we are pressing our limits now. We have to deal with different soils, different quality of the grasses, and the weather....extreme rain one year, drought conditions the next. You need to figure half of what " they say" , until you get the experience to get the feel for the grass. It is hard to reduce your numbers if you have a specialty niche and not large numbers to start with, unless you are willing to take hit with selling animals that are not "ready to harvest".
I am not trying to discourage anyone. Start small, and learn as you go but always try to stay smaller than try to do the max. Sooner or later, the max will change, and it can financially be a disaster, if you have to downsize quicker than you have animals at the ready to harvest stage.
 

Grant

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Jan thanks for the advise. There are full size and mini British or white park cattle. https://rcmminiaturecattlecompany.com/mini-white-park-cows
Mine had a sire who was a mini, about 41 inches at the shoulder. No doubt my bull will be bigger than the heifers/cows. If he gets too big, he will get cut and finished. He was a small calf, but there are guarantees since he is a youngster himself. Like I said, I’ve been around cows and know not to ever really trust one. To me cattle are not pets, they are large animals whe deserve respect and have a job. The best I can do is try to get them as calm as possible and be calm around them. If they know who is the provider, they usually respect that, but one eye is always on the animals. Once the cows have their calves they will get separated by several 100 yards for about 3 months from the bull. Good thoughts on the 4 sets, may reset my thinking on adding 1 more heifer. What I have now will put me in the 8-9 head total range. That should be doable on the area I have since the minis can generally be raised on 1 acre/ fairly easily. I know some push that to 2/acre, but that seems too high a population to me. Fortunately hay is very accessible to me at a reasonable price if I do have to supplement. I always have protein/mineral tubs available for them. I will supplement grain to finish the calves. Not knocking grass fed beef, I just prefer some grain in mine.
 
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farmerjan

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Since you seem to have a handle on handling cattle and all that, then raising what you like is the happiest and most satisfying way to go. Hopefully you will be able to find some good regular customers. Also, have you done much butchering and selling of animals? What are the restrictions there? Here we can sell "halves" if we deliver "the customers animal" to the butcher of their choice and they have to pay for it..... or else the animals have to be processed by a USDA approved slaughterhouse for sale of meat by the piece/pound. The "no backbone/spinal cord" contamination is Federal, so make sure about the under 30 month rule. It is easier to sell a quarter or a half in my opinion. But then I don't mind getting stuck with some of the roasts and extra ground beef and all since I have that shop that does a real good job of making the other products. I LOVE my hot dogs with cheese in them and their chipped beef is very good, not too salty. Their snack sticks are great too. And I am a fanatic for Sweet Lebanon Bologna, so got a bunch of that made. It freezes real good.

I eat mostly jersey beef, and they get a little grain towards the end to keep them coming in the catch pens. Plus the bull/steer calves aren't worth anything at the stockyard sales, so may as well raise them for beef. They marble good and are a sweet meat.

What is your primary grasses there? We have a mix of fescue - which I HATE - and native grasses with some clovers occurring naturally. Most of the planted grasses are orchard grass. I like crab grass, and we have johnson grass that you have to be a little bit careful of during stress and drought, and then frost, but the cattle love it. Grows good too. Just not wanted in the hay fields.

Don't know about the yield on the mini's, but we figure 25% of LIVE weight is edible, frozen meat in your freezer. Any greater yield is a plus. They say 60% of live is hanging, then all according to how it gets cut, about 50% of that. So I always tell people who want to buy beef, that they will be paying for about 1/2 the live weight, and get about half of that in the meat when the bones are cut out and all. People see these big huge animals and panic over where they are going to put all that meat..... not comprehending that nearly half that animal is guts, hooves, hide and head......then if it is very fat you are going to lose on trim. Another reason why I like the jerseys, very little fat trim off the outside.

Glad to hear that hay is fairly available there. Just don't get caught short if you get into drought conditions.... or like us here and it was so wet that making hay was a real challenge too. We try to keep at least 2 months hay over from year to year, rotating it of course, so that we have a cushion in case the hay making weather gets dicey. You can supplement poorer quality hay, but they don't do good on snowballs if there isn't any hay.
 
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