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Trading cattle is nothing new. In fact, at one time consumers regularly used livestock as currency, long before coins and cash became the way to pay. But for today’s farmers, cattle have become a much-needed income source as it becomes increasingly difficult to survive on crop sales alone. Even if you’ve never operated a farm, cattle sales could be a way to make money, provided you have the knowledge and resources necessary to transport and care for the animals.
Arrange for Care
Before you even think about purchasing your first cow, make sure you’re equipped to care for farm animals. Not only is it the humane thing to do, but it’s a good business move, since your buyers will be looking for the healthiest livestock they can find at that price point. It’s important to start small and grow your herd slowly, making sure you have sufficient pasture space to keep your cattle well fed. Over time, the quality of grass can degrade, so always keep an eye on your grazing areas to make sure your existing cattle have the nourishment they need.
You’ll need to own cattle in order to sell cattle. That means having money in place to buy at least one cow. If you’re lucky, you have the cash available to do this. But if you’re like most people, you may need to take out a loan to get your business started. If you’re trying to buy farm property at the same time, you probably will find this is a bit challenging, but fortunately, there are programs that can help. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers farm loans for starting and strengthening family farming and ranching operations. The USDA also has the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loan program to help those just starting out.
Begin Buying and Selling
Buying and selling cattle is easier than ever, thanks to online marketplaces like Cattle-Exchange.com. You can narrow your search to the most profitable cattle, then focus on setting up for breeding so that your herd becomes self-sustaining. Angus cattle are popular with those who buy and sell cattle for food purposes, since they’re known for their meat quality. However, you’ll also need to consider the cost to sustain the particular breed you choose. Herefords are a good option for feed efficiency. Look at market prices and the feed and maintenance costs for any breed before you make your first purchase. Over time, you’ll likely find the best combination of breeds for your own buy-and-sell cattle operation.
Stephanie Faris is a novelist and freelance writer whose work has appeared on the websites of Pacific Standard, the New York Post, the Intuit Small Business Blog, and many others. She is the Simon & Schuster author of eight children’s novels, including the Piper Morgan series.