What to Know Before Purchasing Cows

Reader Contribution by Bobbi Peterson
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Owning and running a farm or homestead can be a fulfilling and productive lifestyle. It gives you the independence to grow your own food, so you know exactly where it comes from and how it was treated, and the ability to make a living selling the excess.

Farm life can be difficult, but if you’re up for the challenge, the results are incredibly rewarding. When it comes to deciding what type of crops to plant on your property, you have to consider what plants are suited to your climate and soil type. When it comes to deciding what type of animals to have on your farm, other factors have to be taken into consideration.

There are many benefits to having cows on your property, but you need to consider whether or not they are right for the size of your land. Below are a few things to consider before purchasing cows.

1. What Kind of Cow Do You Want?

There are two types of cows you can have on your property: beef cattle and dairy cattle. Beef cattle are raised to become food, so they have different requirements than dairy cattle, which are kept to supply your family with milk.

However, no matter which cow you decide to buy, there are a few things you will need to consider:

  • What breed of cow do you want?
  • How much are you willing to spend on it?
  • Where will you get your cattle from?
  • Are you willing to inspect the animals before purchase?

All these items are important in determining if you are getting the right cow. Knowing where your cattle come from and what type they are will help you determine how hearty the breed is and if it will thrive in your environment. If there is a great distance between your farm and where you purchase your cattle, keep in mind that the transportation may have an impact on your cow’s health — another thing to consider when deciding where to get your cow.

2. Do You Have Enough Acreage for a Cow?

On average, it is recommended that you have at least two acres per cow, so if you have a small farm, you may only be able to have one cow. If you have a larger property, you can have more cows. However, the amount of acreage per cow can be reduced if you plan on feeding your cows hay throughout the year.  

3. What Are You Going to Feed Your Cow?

Knowing what to feed your cow will depend on what type of cow you have. While both cows will probably thrive grazing in grass pastures, you might need to supplement dairy cows with more nutrition. In addition, during the winter months when grass is dormant, you’ll need to supplement both beef cattle and dairy cows with hay.

The size of your cattle will also determine how much they eat. Determining how much it will cost to feed your cow is an involved process, but an important one. You don’t want to go broke maintaining a healthy animal. Knowing how much feed costs will also ensure you get a return on your investment from the cow’s purchase.

4. How Experienced Are You With Cows?

You don’t have to be an expert when it comes to owning cattle, but it helps to realize these are living, breathing creatures with minds of their own. Like people, cows have a variety of dispositions and personalities, so if you’re new to the cattle game, you might consider finding a breed that is more gentle and relaxed. Certain breeds are also known to have issues when it comes to calving, so if you don’t have a lot of experience birthing cattle, you might consider one of the breeds that has less-complicated births.

A cow can be a great addition to your homestead or farm. Dairy cows will give you the opportunity to have fresh milk, and beef cattle ensure you will have meat in your freezer. Being educated and informed on what type and how many cows your property can support will ensure your success in raising healthy animals.

Photo by Adobe Stock/AF

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