Monday, March 7, 2011

Bull Calves, Spring Lambing and Bees

I always call them cows but in reality they are steers. We butchered and sold the last of our cattle right before Christmas so now begins the process of looking for new bull calves. The best way we've found to get cattle at a reasonable (a.k.a. cheap) price is to buy Holstein bull calves from dairy farmers. The last couple of years, farmers have been getting very little for bull calves when they are shipped to market so we've been able to pick them up for between $25-50. Holsteins will not get as big as other types but we've kept them because they are easily found in our area and inexpensive to obtain.

We've waited until after the baby was born because we typically bring them home when they are less then a week old so there is lots of bottle feeding going on. Look at that beautiful green pasture...I can't wait for summer!

We're also waiting for our sheep to start lambing. They are all bagging up quite nicely and I'm hoping for more twins this spring. I have one mother who has a nice history of having twins.

Here's one of the lambs only a couple weeks old. Yes, our lambs and goats have been in the house. I think this day I was taking him into school for my daughter's class and I brought him in the house to brush him up. (Yes, I've also had baby chicks and turkey and other small barn animals in the house.) The man of the house just shakes his head!

We're also adding another hive this summer and order another set of bees because yummy does this look!!

Being a city girl who wouldn't have dared stepped into a barn in fear of messing her manicure or getting her heel stuck someplace that might cause it to look less than stellar and who's diet consisted of whatever could be heated quickly in the microwave, I've progressed quickly in the last 5 years in realizing the difference in taste in things like farm fresh eggs, honey, meat, vegetables, fruit, etc.

I even got rid of the high heels (our puppy ate them all 3 years ago anyways although I do replace my little red flats periodically) and actually said the other day..."Boy I really need a new pair of muck boots."

With all the new activity happening or starting to happen around the farm, it's finally time to be able to look forward to spring! Now I just need to finalize the chicken and turkey order.



  1. Animal babies are so cute! We usually keep baby chicks inside for a while but this year we got 8 week olds that were used to being outdoors.

    I would like to get brave enough to be a bee keeper :)


  2. Lisa,

    I'm intrigued with the Holstein calves! How long do you need to bottle-feed them? How much does it cost to feed them that way?

    When I was a teenager I raised beef cattle on my parents' hobby farm and we always bought weaned steer calves for our market steer projects. It was cheap to feed them since we just pastured them until the last 2-3 weeks when we added in a grain ration.

    I can't believe how much you do and with a new baby, too! Kudos, mama. :)

  3. Don't you just love spring? We are looking around for some bottle calves right now as well. Thanks for the idea of looking for bum dairy calves- great idea! Thanks for sharing this post at the Homestead Barn Hop!

  4. Hi Kari,
    We bottle feed for about a month. We offer water (of course) and hay in their pen and bottle feed twice a day. Then we start adding in calf starter (grain) and when they are eating well, we start weaning. So altogether it takes about a month of feeding with milk replacer.
    I'll have to track costs this year when we start with a new group of animals. I didn't track the last set because I knew we were ahead. When we go to butcher for ourselves, we sell the others and that typically covers cost of animal, milk replacer, gas for the tractor, feed such as calf starter and seed along with paying for the meat that we have processed. We do some sharecropping with friends which allows us to grow enough crops to feed all of our animals and we paid cash for all of our equipment. So our costs are relatively low.

    This last time we were able to sell meat for $1.68 a pound and we still come out ahead. I started a notebook because I want to track the bird and lamb costs so I'll do the beef also and post updates after butchering! :)


  5. Vicki,
    The bees were an adventure I was not looking forward to but after we got them I was really surprised. I thought our little farm would be covered with bees but I rarely see them down around the house and barns. The first time I had to go out and water them I was nervous but once you open up one of those covers you just become amazed.
    This year the man of the house is even buying a little beekeeper suit for our oldest so she can e his little helper! :)