Someone asked me about the cost vs. output concerning Dexter cattle. This was a fabulous question, and one that anyone looking into getting a Dexter should research. Please keep in mind that these are just estimated numbers based on research and prices in my area.
Once we move and get settled, we plan to purchase a Dexter bred cow/heifer from a local breeder for around $2000. The property we are buying already has milking stalls, so that is one less start up expense. I have budgeted $250 for milking equipment (pails, filters, etc.). Our property is 20 acres, with about 2/3 of that being pasture. Using rotational grazing, we should be able to have enough grass for 2-3 head during the spring/summer months without having to supplement. We are planning for two 5 1/2 x 5 1/2' round bales per head, for winter (6 months) at $100 per bale.
We currently spend about $400 per year on milk and dairy products, and over $1500 for beef. Buying organic, grass-fed anything is just so expensive. A healthy Dexter cow will produce an average of 1.5 - 2 gallons a day, so even when the cow is nursing, I should have enough milk for drinking and to make any dairy products I may need.
Grass-fed Dexters yield about 55% of their live weight. So a 24 month old steer weighing 600 lbs. should provide 330 pounds of beef in the freezer. Nathan is able to process the meat himself so that saves us a large amount of money. Having invested $450 in food and vet services over a two year period for each calf, that brings our cost per pound of grass-fed beef to $1.37. Based on these numbers I should save $1000 on beef and $800 on dairy over a two year period.
Are these numbers accurate? Only time will tell. Please keep in mind that this is a learning experience for me, so there is bound to be prices I have underestimated and outputs I over estimated. Even if I end up spending the same amount as I do now, I can still be content knowing that we are producing our own food.
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