10 Things to Consider for Small Scale Beef Production

Beef cattle production can be a viable option for small farms. They can diversify farming operations and complement many other farm activities. 

Ruminants have the ability to convert forage / pastures indigestible to many species into valuable, nutritious beef. 

There are many factors needed to successfully raising beef cattle, some of which may take some extra consideration for small-scale production. 

Here are some key considerations for small-scale beef production.  

1.    Availability of resources – 

Think about the land, feed, equipment, facilities, labor, etc. that will be required for a beef cattle operation.  Land availability and feed resources are often limiting factors.

2.    What is your technical know how ?

How knowledgeable are you with animal health, nutrition, reproduction, well-being, etc.?  It is important to work with individuals or organizations like livestock247.com who are knowledgeable and have the needed skill in helping you set up a successful beef farm.

3.    Budget

Draw up a budget that can help you identify all the potential costs and potential incomes. Budgeting effectively can help to identify areas of potential improvement. 

4.    Decide what sector of the beef industry is the best fit for you

The beef industry can be broadly divided into cow-calf production and feedlot production.  Cow-calf operations manage breeding herds to produce new offspring every year.  Feedlot operations feed those offspring to market weight and sell them to be processed into retail beef. 

5.    How might you add value? 

Small cattle farms can position themselves to take advantage of niche markets that may add value to their cattle. 

6.    What production system would work best for you?

Whether it is the extensive, semi- intensive or intensive system of production you want to practice you would have to decide what works best for you depending on region, climate, resources, and many other factors.

7.    When is your calving season?

Calving season is an important component of your production system.  It is usually best to have a short, defined calving season to produce a group of calves that are similar in age and weight. 

Plan your calving season considering labor availability, weather, facilities, feed availability, marketing plan, etc. 

8.    What is your breeding plan? 

Bulls are incredibly important to your breeding operation.  They are responsible for breeding multiple females and thus affect not only pregnancy rates but contribute greatly to the genetics of your calf crop. It may be worth considering leasing agreements, partnerships, and other creative arrangements to acquire your bull power. 

9.    What are your feed resources? 

Adequate nutrition is critical to the health, well-being, and productivity of your cattle.  The cost of feed is the biggest cost of a cattle operation and often the number one factor in determining profitability. 

10.   What aspects of cattle production do you find interesting? 

You are much more likely to be successful if you are interested in and passionate about what you are doing.

If you made it to the end of this article, don’t forget to check out our other post on “what to feed west African goats. here.