Is Raising Your Own Beef An Option for You?

If you’ve ever compared the differences between store bought beef and grass fed beef raised at home, it was probably quite clear that the differences are many. Whether it is the smell, color, or taste, beef raised naturally stands in stark contrast to its grocery store counterparts. Store bought beef does offer the advantage of convenient availability any time you want it, but is that enough?

There are many pros and cons to consider before embarking upon the journey that is raising cattle. If you’ve ever mulled over raising cattle but are on the fence for one reason or another, there is much to contemplate ahead of time. This knowledge, though scary, is a must-have before you make a hasty decision to fill your pasture with bovines. The more you know in advance, the less surprises you will be faced with down the road, which is why it is important to know the pros and cons associated with raising cattle before the first one ever sets hoof on your farm.

Photo: Grass Fed Solutions

Photo: Grass Fed Solutions

The Cons

1. The first thing to consider with any livestock animal is that they take a lot of work, but the same rule generally applies to all things worth doing. This means being available for regular feedings and to provide water regardless of whether or not you are sick, cold, or need a vacation.

2. You will need to put the time and elbow grease into safe, secure fencing and shelters, which also come at an expense. Even then it is necessary to plan for an escape, arming yourself with a reliable horse or ATV to round up cows that have chosen to relocate to greener pasture. Cows require a lot of space to raise and part of that is testing fences so they can roam. A good rule of thumb is to allow one acre per bovine, but this should be adjusted based on the availability of quality grazing in order to keep them entertained at home.

3. Speaking of grazing, it alone is not enough to sustain cows throughout the year. Supplementation with hay is essential and can be quite pricey depending on your climate and growing conditions, such as the presence of a drought.

4. If you want grow your heard, it is important to remember that it sometimes takes three to tango: a cow, a bull, and a vet. Though cows are hearty animals that birth young with a high success rate, it can be necessary to have the intervention of a vet. Sometimes the vet has to get involved long before the calf comes by performing services such as artificial insemination. Vet care can get expensive, but access to it is vital to the health of any cattle operation, big or small.

The Pros

1. The number one reason to raise your own cows is to enjoy that which ultimately winds up on your dinner plate. Nothing compares to the taste of grass raised, farm fresh beef which is delicious and nutritious.

2. Though the initial investment in a cattle operation may seem daunting, it can actually be quite economical to raise your own beef. When you consider what you pay at the grocery store versus what you put into each cow, it is very possible to come out ahead. Granted, it could take time to see that pendulum swing as you establish your farm and acquire what you need, but in the end the money will find its way back to you.

3. Growing awareness about the things we put into our bodies has led to a movement where all things natural and organic are embraced. It does not get much more natural than a grass fed cow on your dinner plate. By raising your own animals, you have complete control over their health and welfare, which ultimately leads to that same control over your own.

4. There is something to be said for being able to provide for yourself and your family. Self-reliance and the pride that comes with it can be accomplished when you raise your own beef cattle. Additionally, having the knowledge to do so and passing that knowledge on to future generations is priceless.

With all things in life we face a choice regarding what is best for us. If you dig in and do the work, you may find that raising cows is a beneficial practice that you will truly enjoy. However, if you find the opposite is true, that is okay, too. In the event that you do not wish to raise your own beef, look for a local ranch in your area that conducts sales, allowing natural, grass fed beef to be enjoyed by all.

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