How Many Cattle Per Acre

Wondering how many cattle per acre you can raise? The answer depends on many factors, some environmental and some legal.

Know Your Local Laws
One of the first things you should check is whether there are any zoning regulations for your area. Contact your local Extension Office to find out the rules. There may also be state and federal requirements for providing shelter and water and for removing animal waste.

The next thing you need to check is whether you have enough pasture for the number of cattle you want to raise. Milk cattle and beef cattle have different requirements. A veterinarian who is experienced in caring for cattle can give you a good estimate of how many you can raise.

Pasture Requirements
If you are raising beef cattle, you should have enough pasture to allow the cattle to gain 1½ to 2 pounds per day from grazing. If the cattle do not get the proper nutrients from grazing, they will not gain enough weight to be considered beef cattle. 

Dairy cows need a higher percentage of vitamins and nutrients to produce quality milk for dairy products, such as butter, milk, cream and cheese. You can use supplements to provide these nutrients, but it's far more cost effective to have your herd get nutrients from natural sources.

The pasture needs a constant supply of fresh water for the cattle. Your location determines the number of cattle you can humanely raise on your property. Location includes the type of grass, soil conditions, irrigation water, plant varieties and the length of the seasons. You will also need to know the percentage of protein in the forage material in your pasture.

You may only be able to allow cattle to graze from May through July. In some areas, the location affords grazing from April to August. The forage only has enough vitamins and nutrients during certain parts of the growth cycle. You may be able to add more cattle per acre if you supplement with grain feed and hay.

Other Requirements
Another thing to take into consideration is human resources. You must be able to handle the cattle you have on your property. The more cattle you have, the more help you may have to hire, which means that your savings on raising your own cattle diminish.

You must also determine what breed of cattle you can raise in your location. Certain cattle do not do well in areas that are cold, and should not be raised in those areas.

Because different breeds require different nutritional intakes, you may not be able to keep 10 of one breed where you may be able to keep 20 of a different breed. Get to know what grows in your pasture and look for cattle breeds that will thrive on what you have to offer. This will allow you to get the most from each acre of land that you have.

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