Well the gestation period for a cow is
285 days so if you have 20 cows they will produce 20 calves about every 10 to 11 months . So you would need to have 12 times that to have 20 calves every month for a year . You would have them bred to where 20 cows per month would drop calves which would be tricky at best . But as a minimum you would need 240 head of cows to try and make it work
At the price of cattle right now it woul be about a 500,000 dollar investment to purchase 240 young good cows . So if you can swing that and have the acreage to sustain 240 head of cattle at a minimum I would say 750 acres and that if it is prime grazing land . Then you can make a go of it but the market right now is a sellers market not a buyers.
Check with local ranches and see what breeds do well in your area . You can usually buy young cows from local ranches , you can also check on the internet on sites such as cattle range for larger groups where you may get a better price . Just remember to look all the cattle over good before you purchase .
Just remember there's a lot that you will need to run a successful cow calf operation main thing is the care and feed for such a large herd during winters and periods of drought . You will have to have facilities to work your cattle you will need several bulls on a large herd to insure that all the cows are bred . It's a big task you are going to take on starting out so large . Another thing to consider is future cattle prices if the prices drop you will take longer to gain back your investment
Also, most of the people I know that raise cattle for a profit, with that kind of a population, do not consider calving every month. They synchronize their pregnancies and divide them up in half. Half the herd calves in the spring and half calves in the fall. Raising beef calves causes me to plan for one calf every 12 months. Also I would say that estimate for the cow calf operation might need a little more acreage. 3 acres per cow on good grass is good data. More land would be needed for the calves, especially in weaning and preconditioning efforts. I'm thinking at least an additional hundred acres.
Cattle USA has sales, western video market, superior livestock, you can search their catalogs online to find something close to your area, they have videos and pictures and they are all sold on satellite video, online, or phone. Contact the sale barn in your area and a rep can help you find what you need to buy. If you know nothing about ranching, hire a good ranch hand that does.
Thank you all for the insight. The plan is to eventually link up with a big cattle business owner in the area. I'm sure all my questions can be answered by him, however, that may be a year from now. At least this forum helps jog my mind a bit and think about some hard points to ponder.
As far as acreage is concerned, as odd as it may sound, its not a huge issue. From what it sounds like, if I'm doing the math right: 240 cows x 3 acres per = 720 + 100 = 820 acres total. I think I may need more to compensate for the hilly/mountainous terrain in some areas. Lets call it an even 1,000 acres to be on the safe side.
It appears that you are really attempting to do your homework MarcRuval. I viewed your North Washington average weather chart. As weather conditions go, it really doesn't seem that extreme. Generally the weather appears very very good. Excellent for grass/hay growth.
One thing that you haven't mentioned at all is help. The size project you are envisioning requires an extensive commitment of funds. You have very good intentions and seem to have a very large capability to learn about animal husbandry. Farming and ranching can be hard & timely work. The amount of money you can lose and the amount of resources one can waste can be directly proportionate to the capital invested.
If you were to purchase as many cattle as you are discussing, I recommend that you ensure that you purchase quality healthy cattle. That requires a working knowledge of EPDs and an ability to evaluate potential breeding combinations and the ability to select useable cattle based on sometimes minimal physical viewing opportunities. That is just to start. After you get started into your first year, you need to consider improving successful breeding rates (probably synchronizing breeding) reducing calf mortality rates, proper nutrition, maintaining & operating equipment, and eventual marketing strategies (private treaty, stock auction barn, production sales, etc..).
You would need an honest, competent ranch manager for I would estimate a very very minimum two years (and probably 4). You can lose your tail with out some dependable help. I estimate that help would cost you 30 to 40 K annually.
I think your biggest concern in providing shelter would be to young calves. That is another reason to synchronize and split your calving into two periods (Spring and fall). Avoid the potential for extreme weather conditions and therefore, hopefully minimize your calf mortality rate.
I think you could use a partially covered livestock handling area for your squeeze chute. Pole barns and metal buildings should be available locally. Check your local rural electric cooperative magazine for some sources of builders.
Thanks for the info. I'm actually looking at partnering up with a local who runs about 2500 head; mix my heard in, then build on the side. I know what youre thinking, why havent I asked him these questions... I havent spoken with him yet, my uncle is negotiating a few things before we meet.
The key thing for me is that land is not an issue. I recently ordered a few books and have been reading a lot on the internet. I'll be retired from the military when the time comes to start so I'll have a little buffer during those rainy days.
I guess what concerns me now is capital cost in equipment such as a chute, location to keep winter feed dry, tractors etc.
Its easy to ask here on the forum, however, it also lets me key in on certain things with the advice provided here.
I also read that finishing cattle may be the way to go in order to cut losses.