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Author Topic: Should we get cows  (Read 5152 times)


  • Joined Jan 2013
Should we get cows
« on: January 02, 2013, 12:30:27 pm »
Hello, I am new to this forum so sorry if this has been asked before!
I have just moved onto a 32 acre farm in north Cornwall, a local farmer has been renting the land and raising some very soggy and sad looking sheep. His contract runs out next month and I am thinking of getting some Dexters to keep the grass down. The land is incredibly wet clay, very over grown in places and the grass seems pretty poor- very thatchy. We don't have any suitable housing for over wintering the cows so thought I could buy some in March and sell them 6 -7 months later before winter sets in. Is this possible? If so what age should the cattle be? Ideally I would like to make a small profit! Any advice gratefully received as well as any other suggestions. Thank you


  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2013, 12:43:00 pm »
cattle can look pretty soggy too!
TBH poor thatchy grass doesnt sound ideal for them, and unless you have some handling faciltiy or they are very quiet sheep are a lot easier! (esp as I think you might be in annual TB testing area for cattle)?


  • Joined Feb 2012
  • South Aberdeenshire
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 12:46:59 pm »
Sounds more the ideal place for water buffalo...  :gloomy:


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2013, 02:35:48 pm »
If you want to do something with the land yourself in the longterm, it may be better to get a contractor in to plough and re-seed (if fields are suitable). Check drainage and if non-existent maybe dig deep (into your financial pockets) and get someone to lay? Otherwise some hardy sheep may be better, and put pigs into the very overgrown bits.
If you have no experience with cattle I wouldn't make them my first choice of farm animal to get.


  • Joined Jan 2013
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2013, 02:49:22 pm »
Thanks all. Mmm water buffalo..... I have some experience with working with cows for the wildlife trust so I am used to handling them and moving them about but have never kept my own. Apparently the land is fairly dry in the summer and autumn and terrible from November to March so thought keeping cows for a short period with no need for winter feeding or housing or calving might be the way to go?
The other problem with sheep is that we have very over grown hedge rows and the poor things keep getting tangled up, at the moment we have very little money to spare and I imagine getting a contractor out would be very expensive?


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2013, 03:39:21 pm »
If you were to buy in cattle for a short period of time i.e. less than a year I can't see you making much money on them to be honest. Cattle are more long term investment as they take longer to finish than sheep or pigs.

I too would have a contractor in, plough and reseed, get the fencing sorted too, then you might be able to think about having a few cows and/or some sheep on it.

Cheshire lass

  • Joined Jan 2013
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2013, 03:52:09 pm »
Hi there,

Before you do anything like ploughing and re-seeding you might want to find out how long ago the land was last ploughed and what diversity of grasses the land has.  I work for Cheshire wildlife trust on a conservation grazing project and we use Dexter and English Longhorn to graze wet saltmarsh and other land that is not suitable for some other breeds.  We also use Hebridean sheep.  All these animals are extremely well adapted to being out all year round and the Hebrideans Lamb outside too.  If I were you I would check with your local wildlife trust or RSPB who may be able to give you advice on land management.  You never know what interesting habitats you may have!


  • Guest
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2013, 04:25:20 pm »
I'd get your drains, fences, hedges and pasture quality sorted before putting anything in the fields (it's so much easier to work in empty fields - voice of experience here  ::) ;))

I'd also agree that I don't think you're going to make much (if any) profit by keeping cows for 6-7 months (unless you're going to go for raising veal calves ?) and to start with cows when you have no facilities to house them (not even neccessarily through winter, but what if one gets ill and needs to come in ?) maybe isn't the best plan  ;)

Something which takes a year (spring, summer and autumn) or less to finish would make more sense - practically and ecconomically I think, but get the fields sorted first  :thumbsup:
Karen  :wave:


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2013, 01:02:26 am »
I think it is really hard to select cattle that'll give you a return in 6-7 months, particularly if just on very rough grazing.  Cornwall, clay - recipe for a baked pan if dry and a heavy cloying quagmire if wet...  Not ideal for cattle.

If you were experienced with young calves you could maybe consider buying month-olds, bottle or bucket feeding them for another couple of months, and selling them as weanlings at the end of the summer.  But the good month-olds (Angus x, Limousin x, British Blue x out of dairy cows) are fetching 250-400 at the moment, there's no short term profit there.  And you would have to have proper shelter for young calves.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Jan 2013
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2013, 09:45:00 am »
No cows it is! The farm has been neglected for 20 years and before that was used for pigs so no biodiversity to speak of. I think it would be wise for us to get the land, hedges, fences etc in good health and then think about animals. Thanks for all the advice, no doubt I'll be needing more in the near future.


  • Joined Jun 2010
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2013, 06:50:40 pm »
i'm on heavy clay ground, and at this present moment with all this bloody rain, you won't find me putting cattle out.  putting cattle out will turn ground into quarmier. get your place into shape first then in late february when the ground is less soggy you be able to put cattle out.  :farmer:


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Pilton
  • Caution! May spontaneously talk rabbits!
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2013, 10:56:27 pm »
I would stick with sheep at the moment but perhaps look into something more primitive?
My Castlemilk crosses don't seem to get snagged up as they have shorter fleeces than commercials, and have done very well on rough ground. The lambs have not done as well this year (though still sent the boys off at 7 months and were very tasty) but I put that down to the weather. Certainly the few 'different' flock round here look to be coping better than the big white jobs. I know of 3 shetland flocks, a soay flock, some hebs and my own bunch. You could take your pick from any of them and do ok I believe.
My own choice I think would be advertise for some conservation grazers (usually wethers round here) owned by someone else, watch how they do then make your decisions  :thumbsup:

We'll turn the dust to soil,
Turn the rust of hate back into passion.
It's not water into wine
But it's here, and it's happening.
but passive.

Bring the peace back

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Should we get cows
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2013, 05:28:33 pm »
How about offering the land to a local farmer for grass keep?  This way you'll have a (small) income, can see for yourself what the land is like through the year, quite possibly make a new friend and have time to research options and prices.  When we came here we got FWAG (Farmers Wildlife Advisory Group) to spend a morning with us and advise exactly what we have.   It included Small Leaved Lime Trees probably 1200 years old, hedges from around 850 A.D., a number of protected species, including Great Crested Newts and two types of bat ....  If money is a problem you may be able to improve the grassland by chain harrowing in two directions in the Spring then oversowing with a grass seed suitable for your area.  You could also get a contractor to make hay and sell it yourself to make a profit, particularly if it's good stuff to horsey folk.


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