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How to Raise Cattle on a Small Farm

by Tim

Are you interested in raising cattle? More and more people want to connect better with their food source. This is a great way to care for the animals that feed them. Beyond your own protein needs, even on a small piece of land, you can raise these animals and thrive if you follow some tried and true steps for success.

Does it seem intimidating, and you don’t know where to begin? This is how you raise cattle on a small farm.

Set Up Your Infrastructure

If you have open land with grass cover, is that all you need to raise cattle? Maybe, but to produce healthy, happy animals, you must have the proper setup before bringing them onto your land. 

Generally, you need around one acre per cow for pastureland and one acre for hay. This will give you food all year round. Next, you need a barn to shelter them in harsh weather and in the winter. Your barn should be spacious enough to include hay storage, pens and ventilation. 

Start Slow

You may be excited and want to get a bunch of animals immediately, but starting this venture at a slower pace is wise. Raising cattle has a steep learning curve, so dipping your feet in one or two is best. 

Cattle are not cheap either, so you don’t want to invest a lot of money and not manage your herd. Milking and breeding pressure, along with everyday duties, is a learned process that needs to be worked into you to get it right.

Cattle Waterers

There must be a steady supply of water both in the barn and out in the field. While you may be lucky to have a pond or stream nearby, the best method is a cattle waterer. These devices consist of a base and bowl filled with fresh water from a pressurized line. They are best controlled with an auto-fill valve to regulate flow and insulated to avoid freeze-ups during cold winter weather. 

Cattle waterers must be cleaned regularly and inspected for leaks, corrosion, or other issues. Ensuring your cattle are adequately hydrated is vital to the herd’s health, so invest in cattle waterers at all locations where your animals live.


You probably have several acres for your herd, but you must use fencing to manage the cattle and keep your grass healthy. This protects your herd so they don’t wander, but you can also move them around in different paddocks so they can eat and move on. This allows the fields to rest and restore.

Consider the type of grass and greens cattle thrive on:

  • Clover
  • Fescue
  • Timothy
  • Bluegrass
  • Butterfly pea
  • Bahiagrass

Grazing Methods

When looking after cattle paddocks, you can use several strategies to benefit both your animals and the land. With continuous grazing, your cattle roam and feed in one area all year without limits. It’s an easy way for your animals to keep grazing steadily.

Rotational grazing splits your land into separate sections. As you move your cattle from one patch to another, some pastures can rest and regrow, creating healthier grass over time.

Strip grazing offers a flexible tactic, employing a portable fence to control where cattle graze on a particular strip. You’d start near a water source and shift the fencing away gradually. This method makes use of land without needing to build additional barriers.

Forward grazing is a process where different groups of cows graze in your fields. Often, you’ll have calves or those needing more nutrition on the richer patches first. The next group follows to tidy up what remains, ensuring nothing is wasted.

As the cold season nears, have plenty of hay rolled up or adequate feed for your cows when fresh pasture is scarce. Pastures may not be as abundant.

Professional Help

You also need to consider facilities and professional help with breeding, calving, and slaughtering, as well as vaccinations and medications. Fence repair is ongoing, and animal loss also happens.

This is how you raise cattle on a small farm. This family wants cattle, so getting everyone involved is excellent. They learn valuable lessons and pitch in so animal care is shared.

Ultimately, you will enjoy interaction with these fantastic beasts and care for them until their last day. Then you want the plentiful fruits of your labour with delicious beef and milk, cheese, cream and yogurt along the way.

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