To create and maintain a cattle farm, especially if this is your first year doing so, the challenges could seem unsurmountable. But they aren’t. How to be a successful cattle farmer is eventually learned with experience. At the same time, the basics of animal care and grazing and anticipating common challenges greatly maximize the likelihood of significant financial rewards from your cattle farm.
If you’re starting from scratch, here is what you need to know about how to be a successful cattle farmer.
1. Take Calculated Risks and Be Willing
For cattle farmers to succeed, they must be willing to take the calculated risk of starting. No farm was built in a day. Acquiring the land, starting small, and eventually earning income using short-term financing can take years. It is extremely key to start small.
Do not over-extend yourself too far when it comes to money. Buy a few cattle to start; calves will come, and your operations can grow over time the more you learn and the more financial backing you have.
2. Study Closely Cattle Farming Methods and Standards
There are four-year degrees in animal science. Farmers will educate themselves before setting out to farm because the upfront cost of starting is sizeable, and the more preparation one has for all the events that may unfold, the better.
If you haven’t pursued a post-secondary degree, the next best thing is to study, research, and never stop learning. Read articles. Read books. Talk to other farmers about what works for them.
3. Invest in Barn Curtains for Your Cattle Barn
Barn curtains are roll-up/drop-down curtains powered by motors or operated manually, used predominantly in free stall barns. They offer temperature control for your cattle, prevent dust build-up, and protect against snow, wind, and rain.
Barn curtains can also prevent the spread of disease or bacteria. They work by allowing air to enter through the top of the wall rather than near the floor, mixing fresh air with warm air and reducing exposure to sudden temperature changes or ventilation challenges.
Features like barn curtains can do a lot to keep cattle happy, cozy, and comfortable, almost no matter the climate.
4. Establish Productive Grassland on Your Land
When you acquire new land, work to optimize it for your cattle. Many farmers will plant orchard grass, bromegrass, red clover, or alfalfa and prepare their land for rotational grazing.
A cow/calf pair typically requires 1-2 acres to live on. Keep this in mind when preparing your farm and growing your herd, replacing the cattle you sell with new livestock and using births and purchases to grow your numbers over time.
5 Control Machinery Costs By Weighing Cost v. Benefit
Farm machinery will break down, and some may not work well or require an eventual replacement. A successful cattle farmer will do with the equipment and repairs they can afford. If you cannot afford a tractor, so be it. Find a workaround.
That said, if the benefit outweighs the cost, some equipment might be worth the upfront investment, especially if it will pay itself off in savings over the year ahead. Every situation is different. A cattle farmer must be smart about the best choice for their situation.
6. Make Cattle Comfortable During Handling
As you handle cattle on your cattle farm, here are a few things you can do to keep them comfortable and safe.
Ensure the setting is calm and well-lit, with as few shadows, colour contrasts, and noise as possible. Also, have two holding pens with a gate between them to easily sort cows from calves.
Decide on what locking head-gate design you prefer based on strength and convenience. Ensure working alleys and chutes are 18 inches wide for calves and 30 inches wide for calves to prevent turning.
Make gates into paddocks 16 feet wide and alleyways 20-30 feet wide for maximum comfort. Ensure traction to concrete floors of chutes and working pens, such as bolting wood strips or rebar to the floor with openings wide enough for cattle feet.
7. Watch Your Cattle for Behavioral Changes
Ensure your cattle herd is kept as healthy as it can be. In the first 30 days of a calf’s life, it’s crucial to watch for signs of problems, such as diarrhea. Another possible disease in a cattle herd is iodine deficiency. There are dozens of potential diseases that can run havoc on a herd.
The earlier you catch illnesses, the faster you can issue treatment. Ensure you’re connected to a reliable, experienced vet who can aid in keeping cattle healthy, well-fed, strong, and disease-free.