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  •  » How early can you butcher a calf?

#1 2010-02-25 02:56:13

Prairie Chick
I Love A.C.E.
From: Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan
Registered: 2009-02-24
Posts: 6528

How early can you butcher a calf?

Ok all you cowboys and cowgirls i was wondering how early you can butcher a calf.  We have 5 calves (Herefords) that were born last yr March and April. I have asked around and everyone says 18 months but if i wait 18 months that would be in the fall and i really would like some beef for the summer.  Could we butcher one in June?  That would be 15 months.

Also another question.  I was told its best to put them on grain about a month before you are going to butcher, is this what you do?  Also what kind of grain and would it be grain and hay?

Sorry if these questions are dumb, this is the first time we have had cattle so we are pretty clueless. :blushing:


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If you get, give.  If you learn, teach.... Maya Angelou

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#2 2010-02-25 03:04:09

hiddenmeadow
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Registered: 2009-01-15
Posts: 2731

Re: How early can you butcher a calf?

What is the weight?
Depends on if you like the flavor of grass finished or grain finished beef, we grass feed.
I dont know about "normal" cow finishing but we finish the belties at 22 + mths.
You will loose 50% of your live weight. Our last one was 1250 lbs live weight.

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#3 2010-02-25 05:58:14

Rosewood Farm
I Love A.C.E.
From: Barriere, BC
Registered: 2009-02-25
Posts: 4834

Re: How early can you butcher a calf?

I had an earlier post that just disappeared in the digital world.  I suspect a case of my mouse traveling to the wrong button.  There is a whole industry for veal which has calves (generally dairy bull calves) butchered between 18 and 20 months.  We like to butcher our Highland cattle at around 30 months.  At that age the animal yields a large amount of extremely lean beef.  Ours are grain fed a small ration daily from birth to butchering rather than intensively the last month or two.  We did butcher a young bull that wouldn't stay in the fences at 18 months old, but at that age there is not a lot of meat.  For a Hereford 3 month early you will lose some weight.  Good butchering is very important- a 5 hour trip one way from here.


Formerly known as Survivor"
Rosewood Farm, breeder of Highland Cattle.
Hope to breed Black Cochins, White Chanteclers, Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and Gold Laced Wyandottes for 2014.
Blue Slate and Beltsville turkeys for 2014.

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#4 2010-02-25 07:05:11

uno
I Love A.C.E.
From: Enderby, BC
Registered: 2009-02-22
Posts: 2893

Re: How early can you butcher a calf?

How big is your freezer? We only have a small freezer and have discovered that a two year old side of beef takes up all the room. No chickens, no frozen fruit, no frozen pies. So your stoarage capacity is a consideration  too, unless you plan to buy a second freezer. Plus, can your family consume a beef in enough time for the meat to still be good and not become unrecognizable freezer burnt objects lost way down at the bottom? Meat does have a shelf life in a freezer.

Often people leave this consideration to the very end. I used to work at a furniture/appliance store and it never failed, late in the fall, just at closing, some desperate guy wearing full hunting gear would rush in, frantic, "Freezer, I need a freezer!" Generally these boys were either moose hunters or bison boys. They were the easiest customers. Didn't care about anything excpet one feature: BIG!

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#5 2010-02-25 12:55:09

muffin
A.C.E. Addicted
From: Saskatchewan
Registered: 2009-08-31
Posts: 1042

Re: How early can you butcher a calf?

As soon as you are fed up with chasing and having it crash through fences and gates! Actually...you can butcher at any age - I used to live down the road from a veal calf farm...they went at 2-3 months of age for butcher. Makes for pale tasteless meat, but young veal is supposed to be a delicacey....so if you want tasteless textureless slink veal, butcher really young. 10 months or so is baby beef...and the older they are the more flavor. Depends on what you want.


Nubian and La Mancha dairy goats (bucks for sale); Llamas; Alpacas;  Appaloosa horses-DOWNSIZING, BIG ONES ARE GOING, MINIATURES ARE COMING; Araucana Chickens;  Buff Cornish. Custom crafted Jewelry items.

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#6 2010-02-25 14:31:23

Prairie Chick
I Love A.C.E.
From: Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan
Registered: 2009-02-24
Posts: 6528

Re: How early can you butcher a calf?

Thanks everyone for the input.  I know we want a beef for the summer as we have nothing in the freezer right now and we love to bbq.  So we NEED steak and hamburger :D.  I think we will wait until the middle or end of June.  So i guess a person would pick the chubbiest one? :confused:
As for them giving us trouble there are only 5 calves, 4 steers and 1 heifer so they aren't any trouble at all.  The trouble is with DH and the boys naming them :verballymad: that won't help at butcher time.  One of the steers has short legs so they named him stubby! :rofl:


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If you get, give.  If you learn, teach.... Maya Angelou

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#7 2010-02-25 15:22:42

daisydukers
A.C.E. Addicted
From: Near Teulon, Manitoba
Registered: 2009-05-15
Posts: 542

Re: How early can you butcher a calf?

Keep this thread going, this is the INFO I need.

I prefer younger grass fed beef myself. 

PrairieChick:
How much work per day does it take to keep your 5 calves...Time wise is more of what I am looking for.  I don't mind hard work at all.  How much water in the winter per day per calf also.  Would 100gal last me a week for 2 calves...ie 7gal/calf/day.

How much hay per calf do you think you would use during the winter...  I would be stuck with using the smaller square bales as I don't have a tractor to move the big round ones.....

Assuming the calves are 8months old when winter hits and pasture is pretty much under snow.... 

I am one of those "planning" types who needs to work out the details before taking the jump.

I don't worry about spring/summer/fall as I have large ponds in the pasture (think olympic sized skating rink sized) and lots of decent fencing....It is the winter that worries me.

I am looking at building a 12x20 barn type structure this spring, would this be enough space to house 2 calves during the winter.  I am going to build a 3 sides barn/windbreak in the pasture also....


25 ISA brown hens, 1 German Shepherd, 1 Wife, and my son Owen...
Remember when they outlaw chickens....
Only outlaws will have chickens...

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#8 2010-02-25 15:39:39

Prairie Chick
I Love A.C.E.
From: Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan
Registered: 2009-02-24
Posts: 6528

Re: How early can you butcher a calf?

Eeeek well i won't be able to answer your questions daisydukers but i am sure someone will. 

We have automatic watering bowls here, there are 4 actually so i don't worry about water at all.  We feed about 1 round bale a week for the 5 calves that are almost a yr old.  But they also waste a lot of that feed, they pull it out of the round feeder and lay in it :tantrum: .  Dh has them very spoiled if they see they are getting low on feed he puts in another bale.  Last yr we had 7 bred cows and they got a round bale (about 1200 lbs) every 4 days.

The farm we bought is completely set up for cattle, there is a calving barn a Quonset, 3 cattle shelters (3 sided structures) and all the watering bowls.  Too bad that we have decided cattle is not our thing :hide:


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If you get, give.  If you learn, teach.... Maya Angelou

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#9 2010-02-25 16:12:14

Rosewood Farm
I Love A.C.E.
From: Barriere, BC
Registered: 2009-02-25
Posts: 4834

Re: How early can you butcher a calf?

We name all ours according to CLRCs tattoo letter for the year, but we have made the big mistake twice of calling a bull calf, Rascal.  Neither would stay in the fences and both ended up at the butchers early.  We have 11 head at present which take less than an hour to feed.  We use round bales, because they are considerable cheaper than small square bales.  We do have a large trailer for hauling hay.  We pull off a large garden trailer load of hay twice per day which would take more time than just throwing out a small square.  Round bale feeders do waste a lot of feed, but require less man power. I would think the water ration would work as we have times when we water from a stock trough-60-70 gallons per day divided by 10 head.  If they have a good shelter they shouldn't need a barn unless you are winter calving.


Formerly known as Survivor"
Rosewood Farm, breeder of Highland Cattle.
Hope to breed Black Cochins, White Chanteclers, Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and Gold Laced Wyandottes for 2014.
Blue Slate and Beltsville turkeys for 2014.

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#10 2010-03-24 04:31:30

DoubleSSRanch
I Love A.C.E.
From: Calmar, Alberta
Registered: 2010-01-04
Posts: 3364
Website

Re: How early can you butcher a calf?

18 months is normal. For some slow growing breeds, like herfords, 2 years isnt unheard of.

If you want the most weight out of them, I reccomend feeding them barely and oats a minumum of 1 month before butcher, we do it for at least 2 months. We actually free feed the calves in a creep feeder while theyre out on pasture. So when we bring them in from pasture in the fall, our calves wean off the cow at 600-700+ pounds. Theyve had mammas milk, green grass, and free feed grain all summer. For us, it works out good. Cause we ship all our calves every fall to the auction mart. And every pound counts when you sell by the pound..

Taste wise, if I was not worried about getting a large amount of meat, Id butcher at a yearish. Ive got 2 longhorn yearling calves that are making me mad...and they better watch it, cause I know how good theyll taste right now!

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