Raising Cattle/Printable version

Raising Cattle

The current, editable version of this book is available in Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection, at

Permission is granted to copy, distribute, and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

why get started


A modern day cowboy.

The first question is: why do you want to raise cattle? What is your objective? Maybe you just love cows. Perhaps you're trying to fulfill a childhood fascination with cowboys and the Old West. Some more practical reasons could be to provide a source of healthy more natural food (either dairy or beef) for your family, or to start a small side business to provide additional income. There are many valid reasons, and you most likely have a combination of motivations.

Regardless of what your motivation is, it will be helpful in making future decisions and working through problems if you honestly know why you are trying to raise cattle.


Grazing cattle can help manage large properties.

There are many horse facilities that have limited acreage and are well suited for cattle raising. However, there is no economic advantage to raising cattle on small acreage unless you have evolved your operation into one where you are selling embryos at a very nice premium. However, a small ranching property that is too large to economically mow (such as 40 acres) may benefit from having cattle graze on it. Many rural municipalities require that property owners control the weeds growing on their properties. Having a small cattle operation can help in this. Also some places having a minimum amount of cattle can qualify you for farming taxation which can be cheaper than leasing the property alone.

Because forage plays such a large part of the feeding regimen, cattle require two to three acres per animal on the small side in the southeast where temperatures allow for a spring and fall forage growing program. Going in any other geographical direction requires even larger land to cattle ratios and the feeding program becomes a financial drain that can be unmanageable.

Indoor Facilities

  • Land
  • Capital
  • Pasture


If you are lucky you will not need much feed and your cattle can graze on what grows in the pasture. However, in many places seasonal feed is needed.

A field of hay bales.

Hay is the most common form of feed available for cattle. If you have a field available that is easily accessible to equipment you can grow your own hay. However, there are many farmers who grow more hay than they need and sell the extra. Some will even deliver to you for an extra price. To find them you can go through your local classifieds.

Growing your own hay


Hay can easily be grown on flat fertile land. As an alternative of using commercial fertilizer, many farmers are using chicken litter. The rising price of commercial fertilizer is the cause of the increasing use of chicken litter. Too much chicken litter can cause the grass to have too much nitrogen. The excessive amount of nitrogen can be harmful to your cattle.



Other Feed



Depending on where you live there are many ways to supply water to your cattle.

Dugouts, Slough, Ponds and other natural sources of water

Cattle near a pond.

There are several methods of handling this. You can let the cattle drink from the water source naturally. However, this will cause erosion and change the shape of the pond. This can be beneficial at times especially for a dugout where minor erosion around the dugout will speed the process of naturalization and increase holding capacity. However, this is often more harmful than beneficial and it is recommended by many sources that if you can afford it you install a solar or wind powered pump and fence off your water source. With this set up you can water your herd from a trough and in northern climates can water them from this water source all year round (as long as the pump is below the maximum ice depth).

Watering them in from a well or other man made source


For this you will need a trough and a hydrant or other form of a tap connected to a well. If you are lucky and have a deep well or a separate well for your cattle then you can constantly water your herd without running out. However, if you are sharing a shallow well with your herd and household water supply then you might run out of water if you need to supply too much. If this is the case you may need to limit the size of your herd even more than local regulations may dictate.


Floor space requirements for different livestock :

Type of animal Floor space requirement (m2) Maximum number of animals/pen Height of the shed (cm)
Covered area Open area
Cattle and Buffaloes
Bulls 12.0 24.0 1 175 cm in medium and heavy rain fall and 220 in dry areas.
Cows 3.5 7.0 50
Buffaloes 4.0 8.0 50
Down – calver 12.0 12.0 1
Young – calves 1.0 2.0 30
Old – calves 2.0 4.0 30
Sheep and Goat
Ewe/Nanny 1.0 - 60 300 cms in dry areas and 220 in heavy rain fall areas
Lamb/kid 0.4 - 75
Ram/buck 3.4 - -
Milch doe 1.4mx1.2m - Single stall
Boar 6.0 – 7.0 8.8 –12.0 - 200 – 250cm
Farrowing sow 7.0-9.0 8.8 – 12.0 -
Weaner/fattening pig 0.9 – 1.8 0.9 – 1.8 30
Dry sow/gilt 1.8 – 2.7 1.4 – 1.8 3 – 10

Feeding and watering space :

Type of animal Space/animal (cm) Total manger length in a pen for 100 animals(cm) Total water tank length in a pen for 100 animals (cm)
Adult cattle and buffaloes 60 – 75 6000 – 7500 600 – 750
Calves 40 – 50 4000 – 5000 400 – 500
Adult sheep and goat 40 – 50 4000 – 5000 400 – 500
Lambs and kids 30 – 35 3000 – 3500 300 – 500
Adult pigs 60 – 75 6000 – 7500 600 – 750
Growing pigs 25 – 35 2500 – 3500 250 – 350