DavidL

Cost Of Raising Cows To Make Leather?

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This is just more out of curiosity than anything. To raise a cow what is required besides the location?

anyone who is familiar or has a rough guess:

Any permits or fees needed to own calfs/cows

Cost to buy calf

Cost to Feed the calf until it is the right size

Is it legal without permit to to breed a cow or are these allowed only in special conditions

How many months - years till calf is the prime age

Cost for abattoir fee

How would one sell the meat from the animal to a supermarket

Cost to buy salted cow hides?Cheaper even after the meat is sold in the above situation.

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Well I don't know about where you live, but if I want to buy some cattle, I'd be damned if I'm gonna go get a permit. I just go buy some calves or whatever, bring them home and start feeding them. If you want to raise cattle, around here, all you need is some cows, a bull for every 20 or so cows and some good grass to turn them out on. Well, there's a whole lot more to it than that, but I'm pretty sure none of these guys running a bunch of cows are going to go get a permit to breed them. There's grazing permits and stuff like that for running your cows in an out of state pasture, but that's an entirely different deal. Cattle have been high for the last year, but have come down some in the last couple months I believe. I know last fall, calves coming in off grass, just weaned were bringing over $3. A good big calf can sure weigh between 500-600 right off the cow, so you know what you're looking at for initial cost there. That's for good beef calves, dairy calves are cheaper, but take longer to finish, and you end up with more in them to net less in the end. As far as feed costs, that varies also. If you have free grass, you're in good shape. If you have to buy all your feed, in the end, you can buy meat about as cheap at the super market as what it costs to raise it. You can count on about 2 years from birth to slaughter if you don't implant. Feed is a commodity that goes up and down just like other commodities. When I take a fat steer to the locker, with the current rate of processing which I think was about $375 last time I had one done (about 6 months ago), and I had bought all the feed, I figured it cost me about $4 a pound straight through for the meat I ended up with in my freezer. No great deal for hamburger, but pretty cheap for T-bones. I don't sell any of the meat; I have a 15 year old son that is as much a carnivore as I am so we keep everything we have processed, and sell anything else live. If you didn't want all of the meat, you'd be better off to try to sell a half to someone else for their freezer. People that don't/can't raise their own are always looking to buy a half or a quarter. As far as the hide goes, I have asked for the hide back from the locker, and had to pay maybe $60 for it. I only ever made rawhide from a hide. Tanning leather is a long and complicated process and I'm pretty sure there's no way I can do as good a job for as little money (even as high as leather is) as what I can buy leather. I'm sure any locker plant will sell you a hide for what their hide guy will give them, or a bit more to make it worth their while to mess with. A deer hide is a nice size hide to handle, if you would want to practice trying to process a hide, and around here you can usually get one for free during hunting season. A cowhide is pretty big and heavy when it's fresh off the animal, at least for my scrawny muscles to handle.

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I see you are in Canada, so I wouldn't have a clue about what is required there. Have you done any tanning yet? I've tanned rabbit hides, and that was a pain. Maybe you could score a moose hide from a local hunter.

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I would suggest asking a farmer. Rules and regs vary slightly from province to province.

Knowing one or two dairy farmers in Ontario, it's not a cheap thing to start up, nor to maintain.

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thanks for the info and suggestions. I would like to try tanning sometime in the future. I will look into local farmers for guidance.

How much does it cost for feed for a single cow until slaughter? What are your opinion on implants?

Edited by DavidL

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What does it cost to feed a single cow until slaughter? That depends on how old you let her get. "Cow" refers to an adult female that is used for breeding purposes. They are generally not slaughtered until their useful breeding life has come to an end, either by not conceiving, or by having a poor calf as she gets close to or into her teens, or by having calving difficulties such as prolapses, or by being so mean tempered that she is just plain dangerous to keep around. I've known cows to keep having good calves into their late teens. Others are done before they're ten years old. I THINK that it is not unusual for a dairy cow to be done before she's 5, but as I've never been a part of a dairy operation, I can't say for sure. Particulars aside, I think what you actually mean is what does it cost to feed a calf for the two years or less from birth until slaughter. It is estimated that cattle will consume approximately 2.5% of their body weight per day. A feeder calf should gain an average of between 2 and 3 lbs a day. What the actual cost per pound of gain is I don't know, because I'm not raising cattle for a living. A small calf will obviously eat less than a big calf, so to say it costs $2 a day to feed a calf would not be accurate at all stages of feeding. You can bet guys managing a feedlot know pretty closely what the cost per lb of gain is. If you have cheap grass and grass fatten your cattle, you can sure get by cheaper than with grain fattened cattle, but it takes longer to finish them. There are just so many variables that it makes it tough answer your question accurately. I do not believe that you can buy one calf, buy all your feed until slaughter age, and make anything more than pennies an hour on your time, or suffer a big loss if you come out one morning and find your steer dead from bloat. And that does happen! Margins are small for cattle operations, even when prices are good, and they DO lose money when the prices are low. It is such a complex subject that entire research studies are done every year to try to figure it out. I do know that feeding one 1200lb steer and 9 feeder colts is currently costing me around $30 a day. I did at one point have it figured out what kind of gain I had to get on the colts and how much I could pay for feed in order to make anything, but offhand I can't remember the numbers.

Implants: If you are going to make any money feeding cattle for the general market, you have to implant. If you raise for the natural/organic market then the higher price per pound at the end is SUPPOSED to make up for the increased time it takes to finish. Personally, I will not implant the cattle I am going to eat. The FDA or USDA or whatever claims them to be safe, but the fewer unnatural products that go into my food, the better. I'm not an extreme "buy only organic" person, but if it takes me a few months longer to finish a steer for my freezer, it's not a big deal. But like I said, I'm not feeding cattle for a living.

Brain tanning I have been tempted to try, but I wouldn't do it with a cowhide. I would try a deer hide first. As far as vegetable tanning or even chrome tanning, I myself wouldn't even attempt it. Tanneries employ full time chemists to keep tabs on their operations, and I have no illusions that I could do even close to as good a job for less money. But best of luck to you if you decide to try it. Sorry I couldn't be of more help on the total feed costs.

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I would recommend going with a dairy cow instead of just a feeder. That way, you get free milk, free meat, AND free leather when it's all said and done.

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First there are regulations on size of land. You cannot raise a cow or cattle in the city. You need so many acres per cow and horse. the rest depends on if it is a good year or bad year grain wise. Are you growing your own wheat etc. Do you plan to have calves, do you have a bull, are you planning on a bull. Do you know how to pull calves during calving season. Go talk to agriculture Canada ant then talk to farmers . These are not cats, dogs, or goldfish. This is not waking up one days and saying, I think I will raise some cattle because I don't want to pay for leather. Raising cattle does not insure great leather.

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There's also vetrinary costs to consider, housing the beasts, inspection and storage costs if you plan on selling the meat or milk, not to mention the man hours involved. Livestock farming is a labour of love.

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I may be thinking about this type of thing in the future, owning a small plot of land for vegetables, grains and live stock the entire lifestyle. Diary cow is a great idea. I will take a look at the laws and regulations to find out the current situation.

Calf leather that are 13- 20 sq feet roughly for chrome tan full hide how many months old are those calfs?

When we see leathers from HO and W & C how old are these cows that we get the 25 sq foot sides?

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Leather is mainly from beef cattle. Steers are usually sold sometime in their second year. Around here calving is mainly Feb to March and September is common market time. So the steers are 1 1/2 years old. Then they go to a feed lot for finishing. Less than 2 years old total.

How much grass or grain does it take to turn a 100lb calf into a 1000lb steer?

Dan

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I doubt with tanning, feeding, vet costs, and everything else you will get a good return on your idea. Most people who farm have been or have family who have been farmers. They do know something about it. I am sure you will not come out further ahead because of it. You also have to worry about cougars, wolves etc. Some people put a mule or donkey on their land to keep wolves and coyotes away but that won't stop a cougar. If you have kids and you plan to slaughter this animal, anticipate that you will not be a big star in their lives and they will remember it forever. Remember farmers never take holidays unless they have someone who is coming by to check on things and make sure it has food and water, and something or someone hasn't killed or made off with it. Cattle rustling isn't what it was in the old west, but it still exists.

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Go to the slaughter houses and buy the hides. For the most part, they are a by-product. A small slaughter house, or abattoir may be happy to deal with you on small quantities. For the big operations, having to handle a few hides for you would just be a nuisance.

Cattle ranchers and feedlots make their money on the beef (meat), not on the hides.

By the way, the price of beef (on the hoof or in the supermarket) has recently doubled. That is due to so many ranchers and farmers reducing their herds several years ago due to BSE and the loss of foreign markets. It's now gone full cycle so there are fewer cattle and higher demand. Now it will take time to build the herds up for a few years until they can meet the demand, then the price will start to decline again. It's a familiar cycle that animal meat producers go through about every 5 to 10 years.

Tom

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From the perspective of someone who grew up raising cattle and sheep. I wouldn't bother with doing it strictly for leather. As others have said it is a lot of work for no more leather you receive. Cattle costs in the US have skyrocketed over the past few years. Which is one of several reasons why Hermann Oak and several other tanneries are bumping up their prices. Everything costs more to raise a calf to market weight.

I plan to do something similar in the future but I'm not doing it for the leather. I'm doing it to be more self sufficient. Any leather I make from my own herd will be a by product and will cost much more per sq ft than what I can buy from a supplier.

One suggestion is to look for brain tanned deer hides and the price they fetch. Hunters get those as by products and a few take the time to work them up. There is a reason they get up to $25 sq ft. It's a lot of work and they didn't put anything into them besides a bullet, tags, and time.

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We have paid between $50 and $80 to our local butcher for a raw hide straight off the animal, and those are big cow or bull hides. No profit in hides. They are strictly a by-product.

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