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Holstein Beef Expand / Collapse
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Posted 1/14/2010 10:50:18 AM
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Are there any drawbacks to buying a Holstein calf and raising for our own use as beef?  The main advantage is that I think the price is probably lower than other breeds, although I don't know how much lower.  Is there some gotcha with Holsteins that outweighs the lower price, like they need four times as much grain to finish or something?

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
Post #15359
Posted 1/14/2010 11:01:53 AM
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It all depends on the feed and over all health of the calf.

When you go with "beef" cattle they are breed just for that reason beef and muscle. Your h. calf may be cheaper but depending on the location it came from it may be harder to get it growing/started. Down here h. calves (bull) go for $10 each, provided you buy 10 at a time.

I look at it this way...it's the quality of life the animal has before you slaughter it. Good luck.

Post #15360
Posted 1/14/2010 2:55:04 PM


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None at all. In fact Holstein are rated at #2 as far as taste goes in a leading blind taste test of beef. Jersey is #1. But for us dairy farmers we are not surprised at all.

The problem with dairy cows as beef is not taste, it is their bone structure. They are big bony cows, and while it makes for delectable meat, commercial beef is all based on the pound. No beef farmer wants to invest feed into an animal that ends up being bones.

We raise about 30-40 Holstein calves as beef steers every year, and on my own sheep farm I have a few Holstein bulls that I use to protect the sheep from coyotes, and also as beef for my own family. I will lose a few pounds of meat if I went with a true beef breed instead, but come on, this family has 1000 Holstein cows being milked every day, with 5-6 calves being born per day. It would be silly to buy a special beef breed when Holstein is so plentiful.

For the homesteader such as yourself, it makes just as much sense to buy a Holstein bull calf because they are worthless to a dairy farmer. In fact they are worth about $4 dollars after all the fees are taking out and the cattle dealer hauls them away for Veil. So for $10 bucks, we sell calves to anyone that wants them. I am sure you can find a Holstein bull calf for the same money where you live.

And for what it is worth, 15% of the US's beef consumed every year is Holstein so we eat it everyday and don't even notice.

Go for it...heck I am, and my family has, for generations. Holstein is good beef!

******

Tell a welfare recipient they must work and they call their congressman. Tell a farmer he can no longer work and he commits suicide. No wonder 1/2% of the population feeds the other 99-1/2%!!
Post #15368
Posted 1/14/2010 7:18:31 PM


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I agree with Draw 100%. Over the years we raised several different breeds of cattle for meat, and by far the best tasting cows were the holsteins, or a holstein cross. The drawbacks are that they do not put on as much meat, or as quickly as an angus or hereford. They also have a higher percentage of bone to muscle than a beef breed. But if you can buy a holstein calf for almost nothing, and the quality of the meat is great, what do you care if they don't put on weight as fast as a beef breed? This is especially true if you intend to raise the calf primarily on pasture and feed you grow yourself.
Post #15383
Posted 1/14/2010 10:22:59 PM
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I bought a couple of jersey bulls in Nov. and that is what we are going to do with them we are going to kill one for our self and sell the other to help with expenses
Post #15386
Posted 1/15/2010 3:52:41 AM
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My hubby used to raise Holstein steers for beef for himself and his Dad all the time. about 13 years ago, we couldn't find any Holstein calves, but found two Jerseys for sale. Since we've eaten Jersey beef, we've never turned back.

Dairy beef is very tender and flavorful, much better than the side of grass-fed Angus we had to buy one year when we ran out of meat. The carcass will have a higher bone to meat ratio, but IMHO, it is well worth it.

Karen

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Post #15388
Posted 1/15/2010 5:52:48 AM


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You know an excellent way to get a lot of inexpensive but quality meat is to talk to a dairy farmer. We have dairy cows that are reaching the end of their usefulness and are culled. I have taken these from the farm and had them slaughtered for my own meat.

If you have a dairy farm near you, and talk with the farmers there, they will often know of a good cow that is nearing the end of its dairy potential and will gladly sell it to you for wholesale prices. Since they have already gotten their money out of it, and know the animal will help feed someone locally...a feel good sort of thing...will sell it pretty cheaply. That enables the homesteader who does not have sufficient acreage to keep cows themselves, some inexpensive beef. At the same time it might enable a homesteader who wants a little meat now to obtain it without waiting a year and a half or longer to reach slaughter size.

This does come with one issue though. Dairy farmers tend to keep cows quite awhile so there is a chance that it has had antibiotics at some time. It certainly is no worse then the beef you buy at the store, but a good repore with the dairy farmer will get you a good cow. They won't sell you a nasty ole constantly sick cow. We do this all the time as I said because it is nice to see a good cow that is done its dairying to be eaten by a family looking for some good meat...it is a win-win situation for all.

On this same subject, we will often set out bull calfs and feed them for a couple of months as "starters" for people as well. We like to keep them on farm and get them up to 2 months or so just so that we know they are healthy animals. We do charge more then $10 bucks because the milk replacer costs us 50 bucks a bag so we do have to charge $100-$150 bucks for one, but you get a healthy bull calf that has got a nice start in life and should be robust when it gets to your place.

The point here is, dairy farms know cows and if approached respectfully, big dairy and homesteaders can get along quite well and provide some nice livestock for you...at very cheap prices. We are approachable, we just are intimidating with our big equipment, big barns, and fast pace. With the right approach and respect, you would be surprised the many ways we help small, local agriculture.

******

Tell a welfare recipient they must work and they call their congressman. Tell a farmer he can no longer work and he commits suicide. No wonder 1/2% of the population feeds the other 99-1/2%!!
Post #15392
Posted 1/15/2010 7:20:40 AM
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We've only grown 1 animal for beef, and it was a Holstein/Angus cross. We bought him in Aug of 2008; I wish I had read Drawbar's comments! The guy who sold him to us must still be laughing, because we paid far more than $4! :) We fed him on milk replacer at first, then calf starter, then, at about 8 months, he went on grass and hay. that was March/April of 2009, and, in August, we realized he really wasn't growing, so put him on grass/hay and a mixture of corn, oats and barley (I also feed that to one of our horses, so it was available.) We decided in Dec to butcher him, as hay prices here are ridiculous and we just didn't want to spend the $500 on hay alone that it would take to get him to the first of March.
His live weight was 870#, and we brought home 180#; that was for half of him. The other half was sold to a friend of ours who was in on this from the beginning. She made a standing rib roast from him for Christmas dinner. I told her not to, because her family is used to the finest, and I was really unsure about this, having never raised beef. He was delicious! Still is! Lean and tender, very nice beef.
Will I do it again? The jury is out; my husband says no. For one thing, we have two horses and 5 acres. Our pastures this year, between the horses and JR (we called him JR Cheeseburger) were very stressed. I hope we can get them back even halfway this year! The feed costs were draining. I'm sure we could have gotten him much bigger, but we just didn't want to spend more than we had into him. We weren't unhappy with what he yielded, just what it cost us. I would like to try again, but I think our small place is better suited for pork and poultry; maybe some sheep. They would make the border collie happy!
On the other hand, just before we decided to butcher him (figures!) I bought 50# of grass-fed beef from a friend whose business is growing grass-fed beef. We had steaks from it the other night, and meat loaf a couple of days later. I did not like the gamey taste. I think that may have been this animal or grower though; another friend also raises grass-fed beef, and hers has never had that gamey taste.
I also roasted and then boiled the soup bones from JR to make beef broth, which I canned. Wonderful flavor and color!
Yeah, I'm wordy. Hope this helped somewhat.
Post #15395
Posted 1/16/2010 3:45:29 AM
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"With the right approach and respect, you would be surprised the many ways we help small, local agriculture."

No surprised at all, DB! The gentleman we used to buy Jersey calves from is also the man we bought our heifer from. He has taught us many things over the years we have known him and I am deeply appreciative for it. Our next door neighbors have always been willing to give advice when asked, as well. Donnie (next door) is in his mid-70's and always gives a small laugh when I ask a question about managing my cow (or whatever). He says, "Well, I don't know how this will translate to your farm, but here's how we do it." And he will also say what he's heard others do.

I am, quite frankly, honored when he refers to our little two acres as a "farm", as they run nearly 1,000 acres, between crops and beef cattle and just gave up the dairy this past summer.

Melody, don't feel cheated that you did not get your Holstein/Angus cross for the low prices cited above - being that he was 1/2 beef he was worth a lot more than a pure dairy calf would be. Regarding feeding practices, I learned from my farmer friends that a steer for beef really needs extra protein to grow fast and well. If you had been feeding your guy some soybean meal or distiller's grain all throughout he would have grown much more quickly.

Our most recent Jersey calf was about 16 months old when we butchered him and his hanging weight was almost 500 lbs, so we got a lot more beef out of him than you did out of your H/A cross. We feed a blend of sweet feed, corn, distillers grain and beet pulp, plus free choice hay. We don't have any pasture, so have to buy all of our feed in, which makes it more expensive to raise, but it is worth every dime!


Karen

http://www.facebook.com/MrsKsCreations

Post #15425
Posted 1/16/2010 7:05:03 AM


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Melody (1/15/2010)
We've only grown 1 animal for beef, and it was a Holstein/Angus cross. We bought him in Aug of 2008; I wish I had read Drawbar's comments! The guy who sold him to us must still be laughing, because we paid far more than $4! :)

Don't worry, even our Jersey/Holstien bull calves sell for $50 on todays market(which is not good), so a lot depends on your area.  I will sell small ones for $30-$40.

A couple years ago they were selling like hotcakes for $75-$100.

An Angus cross bull calf  is worth at least twice what a full dairy calf is worth.  Opposite with heifers, at least in most areas.

Emily Dixon
Ozark Jewels
Nubians and Lamanchas
www.ozarkjewels.net

Morningland Dairy Raw Milk Cheeses.
www.morninglanddairy.com

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