The Livestock Book by W. R. Thompson and John McKinney, 1952, was intended as an introductory/overview of the potential of raising livestock as a career. Its sections on pasture, beef, dairy, sheep and hogs were written by those who were considered to be among the foremost authorities in each area at that time.
The sections on pasture and beef offer the following tips for cattle farming for beginners. While they are oriented toward someone considering a career as a farmer/rancher, many would still apply to a homesteader contemplating livestock.
Tips for Cattle Farming for Beginners
- The shortest route to prosperity is across green pastures-with livestock grazing them. Pastures make the best soil conservation crops. What is soil conservation and why is it important? There are several strategies that go into proper soil conservation, but at its core it is a combination of practices used to protect the soil from degradation, essentially treating the soil as a living eco-system.
- You cannot wear a farm out in grass. The longer you use it the better it gets.
- The way to restore a worn out farm is through maintaining the number of livestock which the available forages will allow. Increase herd size only as forage quantity and quality permit.
- Cattle farming for beginners starts with planning your pastures. Begin with a soil map (available from local Soil Conservation Services Office); test soils to determine the minerals and trace elements which may be lacking; apply sufficient fertilizer, other minerals and elements to get the desired results and seed the pasture to the appropriate forages for the type of soil and climate.
- Don’t try to produce pastures on poor land without fertilizer (limestone, nitrogen, phosphate and potash). It won’t pay off.
- Management is the secret of keeping good pastures good. It won’t pay to fertilize and seed a pasture and then not manage it to get the most from the work and investment.