Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 13

Corey —  September 22, 2010

       Last month, I posted an update about how my wife and I are raising a cow for beef. This is a summary of our activity and costs for month 13. As always, let’s first check Bambi’s growth. Here he is at twelve months old:

Bambi - 12 Months Old

       And here he is at thirteen months old:

Bambi - 13 Months Old

       I don’t see much difference between this month and last month. But the pictures were taken from slightly different angles so it’s hard to tell. Bambi’s not one for posing exactly the way you tell him! I’m not too worried about his weight gain though. I think he’ll be fine.

Costs & Time

       I’ve been on my friends to give us a cost for keeping Bambi on their farm, but they’ve yet to give me a price. I’m going to keep asking, but if they don’t give me a price I’ll just end up paying them $30/month because that’s the best estimate I can come up with. (Anyone have an idea what it should cost to board a 700-800 pound steer?) I won’t be able to update the costs until I get that sorted out. But for your reference, here are our total costs so far:

  • Cost of Bambi – Free!
  • Castration & Dehorning – $16.00
  • Milk Replacer – $45.54
  • Miscellaneous – $46.87
  • Feed – $362.77
  • Hay – $88.00
  • Straw – $20.00
  • Medicine – $5.00
  • Total Spent – $584.18
  • Time – 102 hours

       I’d guess the total costs will be about $650 after we get a payment figured out for our friends.

       The big news for this month is that I finally have Bambi’s slaughter date! He’ll go off to that big pasture in the sky on December 2, 2010. (No, I don’t believe animals have souls, but it sounded nice…right?)

       So the two big things I have to do before then are find a chest freezer and decide what cuts we want. We have been planning to purchase a chest freezer anyway to store up any good deals we find and for keeping veggies and such. So I’m not considering this an additional cost for raising a steer. But you’d certainly need something beyond your regular top-of-the-fridge freezer if you’re going to be getting an entire steer (or even 1/4 or 1/2 of one). I haven’t been trying very hard to find a freezer yet, but that’s something I have to do before Bambi comes back in little vacuum sealed packages.

       We don’t need to decide which cuts of beef we want until the day before Bambi goes to the butcher. I have to say it’s a bit of a daunting process for a first-timer. There are many options and a few cuts I’ve never heard of before. (And I’m pretty familiar with my critter cuts thanks to Alton Brown!) Thankfully, the butcher we’re sending Bambi to has a very helpful beef processing form with plenty of explanatory notes and I can always call if I have questions.

       I’m still not sure what the cost will be for butchering, but we won’t be getting any beef processed (jerky, dried beef, etc.) so that will keep the costs down. I also doubt we’ll get patties since burgers are better when you pat them out yourself (in my opinion). If anyone has experience with butchering a steer and wants to offer some tips, I’m all ears!

       And if you haven’t already make sure you sign up for free updates to Provident Planning so you don’t miss out on the final steps in the process of raising a cow for beef!



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

5 responses to Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 13

  1. Is anyone else seeing an ad for Disney Parks in the left sidebar? Maybe it’s me, but that’s hilarious! :)

  2. I raised calves all through jr high and HS for family beef and to sell. We’d barely get through half a steer as a family of four. The major decision is whether you want more stew meat or burger. It mostly comes down to which you prefer.

    Especially if you do this again, I’d suggest you stop graining him, unless you need the suplemental feed to keep him healthy. Grass fed beef is tastier (it’s very slightly gamier than store bought beef) and you’re not graining him enough to really fatten him up. If you grain them you’ll save a fortune growing your own corn or another grain on a couple hundred square feet.

    We’d put the grain in a bucket and shake it (even just twisting it so they hear the grain moving in the bucket), once the cow associates that sound with grain they’ll usually come running. It was the easiest way to move them, if no one showed you with the calf theres a nerve on either side of their tail that causes them to take a step when pushed, it’s easiest to see on a new calf because it’s the last place the mother cow licks right after birth.

  3. Hey, bluto! Thanks for taking the time to comment. We’ll probably donate some of the meat for meat canning (a relief project that Mennonite Central Committee does). He’ll be finishing on grain with another beef cow before he goes to the butcher. This is based on recommendations from farmers and a vet we know, so I trust their judgment. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about moving him now since he’s on a farm in a fenced pasture.

  4. I have a freind that brought out 2 bottel calfs and i was wondering what the cost of boarding should be?

  5. Hi, Jason. I don’t have a good answer for you. I didn’t pay anyone to board Bambi as a calf, so I’m not sure what it should cost. Sorry!