Hi all -
We are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the requirements for raising cattle. We see many a neighbor that just let their cattle lose on 100+ acre pastures with water and hardly ever check on them - and they make their living this way. No shots, no tags, no deworming - just round them up once a year and take the excess to the cattle barn sale.
Thats NOT my intent. However the infrastructure required to do better is going to require multiple years of investments to build up.
Currently we have our 121 acres and a weekend place to stay on it. We have power and county water as well as three watering ponds (two with freeze proof watering stations) and a very small spring that keeps pools of fresh water in the creek. We are currently working on replacing the worst section of parimeter fenching, and have been told the rest should be good for another 10 years or so. Even our worse section was good enough to keep well fed mature cows contained, but I was advised it probably wouldn't hold youngsters - so its being replaced with RedBrand High Tensile Farm Fencing (949-12-12 1/2) with a barb top wire to encourage the cattle from leaning on it. We have a nice tractor with brush hog and a Kubota RTV for getting around the place.
We have managed to keep "high twenties" of cow/calf pairs on this property for the past couple of years with the aid of a local man who was also getting into cattle at the time. He did all the routine work (from checking the crossings to winter hay feeding to castration and worming) in exchange for grazing his half of the herd on our property. This worked out fine until he partnered with another to keep a hundred head herd and discovered it took almost as much time to do our herd as it took to do the larger one. He bought me out this past week, so now we are on our own.
I find we now need a number of things:
1) Cattle handing facilities: we have an ancient pen and squeeze run, but no headgate. It needs to be rebuilt from scratch using modern flow designs.
2) Hay storage: Our intention is to buy hay for now. For the past few years our big round bales have been net wrapped and stored in a fenced in corner of one field. I know it would do better stored under cover.
3) Haying equipment: We would like to cut some of our own hay, but at our scale, I think traditional square bales make more sense.
4) Trailer for hauling cattle. This almost feels optional, since we can get the vet to come to the farm, and the butcher comes and drops our cows in the field. Biggest need comes when we buy new cattle - so far the previous owners have transported for us. I have a F250 with a 10,000 lbs bumper hitch so could probably handle a 7x16 trailer.
5) Flatbed trailer for hauling hay, fence post, etc. Hauled by truck or tractor.
6) Barn for handling tough deliveries, storing hay in the loft, maybe milking someday, hitching oxen, etc.
7) Equipment storage shed. We are using a steel storage container now, but its a tight fit for our tractor, RTV, and implements. Normally the brush-hog and some other attachments sit outside or under an ancient hay barn missing half its roof.
I'm just not sure what sequence we should get this in. I suspect the cattle trailer should be last - we can hire out that work if necessary and defer the bigger expense.
The handling facility seems like the next thing we could concentrate on, although hay storage is screaming at me too. The flatbed sounds mighty useful. Suspect we can continue to buy hay - at least until a drought year, when I'll wish I had my own equipment.