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Starting a cattle farm from the ground up can be a daunting task. For someone just getting into the business or getting back into it after a period of time away, starting off small might be the best way to begin. Setting up your property with shelter and a steady water source for your cattle are the key initial steps to starting a small beef cattle farm. Finding the right cattle for your size farm and area will be the steps that make your farm a success.
Learn everything you can about animal husbandry so you can take care of certain illnesses or other health events related to births or wounds. Take courses offered by your local college or Extension office and read as much as you can about the subject. Establish a rapport with a local veterinarian to let them know that you will be starting a beef operation in the near future.
Determine how much of your land should be devoted to your cattle. Decide how many cattle you want to have so you can properly allot space for them. For example, a typical cow should have about 300 square feet of room for grazing, so a beef farm with 10 cattle ideally would be around 3,000 square feet.
Build fencing to keep your cows on your land. Construct a fence made of wood or metal that is about 5 feet high with posts set about 15 feet to 30 feet apart; cows like to rub against fencing, so you may want to wrap the fencing in barbed wire to keep this from happening and help keep predators out,
Contract to have a small building constructed to shield your cows from the elements. Consider building a small barn, although an open-ended enclosure will provide enough shelter from the elements for the cows. Construct other buildings as needed, such as tool sheds and a slaughter area, if necessary.
Ensure that there is a steady supply of water available for your cows. Choose a location that has a pond -- either natural or man-made -- if possible. Construct or purchase several water troughs if a body of water is not available.
Choose a location that has good vegetation for grazing, such as field or rye grasses. Purchase enough feed and hay to keep your cows from overgrazing the land, which could make maintaining the grazing area in future years difficult.
Conduct research to determine what type of cows do well and, more important, sell well in your area. Contact your local Extension office for information on how to make your beef farm successful.
Locate a reputable seller to purchase your cows and bull from; for a small farm, you will likely only need one bull. Research breeders in your area and talk to other area farmers to find out who offers the best cows at reasonable prices. Secure a trailer to transport the cows to your farm.
- Small Beef Cattle Farm Information & Resources: 5 Tips to Starting Beef Cattle Farming
- The Complete Guide to Small Scale Farming; Melissa G. Nelson; 2010
- Agricultural Alternatives: Beef Cow-Calf Production
- "Backwoods Home" Magazine; Raising Cattle on Your Own Place; Charles Sanders
Based in Virginia Beach, Mark S. Baker has been working in editorial for more than 20 years. He has served as a writer and editor for publications such as the "Houston Post," "Boca Raton News" and "Interactive Week," among others. Baker also has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and has his own catering business.