Beef cow/calf in confinement

Backgrounding & feeding questions.
Till-Hill
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Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby Till-Hill » Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:13 pm

Here is my situation today. I own the cows, very little debt. Own the bulls, the semen tank, the chute, the bale feeders, the truck, the trailer.

We rent pasture. In this country we get 5 months of grazing. Pasture costs anywhere from $12/pair to $25+ depending on facilities. Then there is checking them at least weekly (20 mile round trip to 3 pastures) hauling them twice a year.

Own 0 acres but on dairy farm I work I have the ability to purchase feed stuffs and ability to use TMR with little cost.

Why couldn't I build one of these barns and make it work? Not sold on hoop barns but I think air quality and light is much better than a stick built.

I've heard from 50-100 square feet needed for a pair.

Should you have a bedded creep area just for the calves?
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby bmoore87 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:36 pm

Till-Hill wrote:We rent pasture. In this country we get 5 months of grazing. Pasture costs anywhere from $12/pair to $25+ depending on facilities. Then there is checking them at least weekly (20 mile round trip to 3 pastures) hauling them twice a year.

Why couldn't I build one of these barns and make it work? Not sold on hoop barns but I think air quality and light is much better than a stick built.

I've heard from 50-100 square feet needed for a pair.



$12 and 25$ per what time frame (week -month-summer)? We have calculated dry loting and figured pasture rent would need to be in the $240-250 (our pastures run from May 1 to Nov 1 time frame).

Hoop barns work well and we calve in them during the spring. They realy cut down on messing with the mud but they can ad extra work like bedding and hauling out manure means more cost. Have heard at least min. 70-80 sq. ft. per cow. We run heavier than that but pull out to pasture as cows calve.
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby Till-Hill » Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:39 pm

$12-25/pair a month.

That's what I've seen built up here is 80 square foot a pair but why not let the calves have their own area? Put creep gate in and calves can get away from cows.
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby bmoore87 » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:32 pm

Till-Hill wrote:$12-25/pair a month.

That's what I've seen built up here is 80 square foot a pair but why not let the calves have their own area? Put creep gate in and calves can get away from cows.


That seems like very cheap pasture rent if at most over 5 months you are looking at $125 per pair. I wouldn't be able to dry lot them cheaper than that. We have done it with groups of 25-50 when short on pasture and it is nice to be able to check them easily and do things like ai but overall it is more work. Also really like that the calves eat at the bunks with the cows making weaning easy.

I haven't used one in the hoops but have on a yard with a barn that I let the calves go in with a creep gate to stay dry. Worked pretty good. If I am understanding you only problem I would say is that if you are gating off an area in a hoop and give the cows a smaller area in that hoop they will muddy up there area pretty quickly if overcrowded.
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby Till-Hill » Thu Sep 03, 2015 12:14 am

The pasture is affordable yes but our limitations to grow our stock cows are done for the most part. Why not make running cows easier?
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby bmoore87 » Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:25 am

Id agree that it does allow you to expand at your pace instead of relying on getting pasture and its nice that you can make improvements to your own stuff instead of someone elses. As far as being easier unless you are doing really intensive management out on the pasture (handling several time a week) with the feeding cleaning and manure hauling it is for the most part more work loting them.
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby Till-Hill » Thu Sep 03, 2015 10:14 am

I'd agree on little more "work" in confinement. But time it takes me just to drive to pastures I'd of had alley scraped and cattle bedded.

I'm going to price a building and just see where/what it would take to build it. If it doesn't work I can always put dairy heifers in it I guess.

Read somewhere $1400 a unit to get it built.....
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby Flatbroke » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:05 pm

Keep us posted! There is much information on he net that it is the wave of the future. 35 million less acres now to graze than decade ago just because of city growth etc. That and an acre of land even in Montana now is $900 for the marginal stuff. That alone makes it not pencil out.
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby Flatbroke » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:26 pm

In my country it can take 30-50 acres to graze a cow. At 900/A you can not even consider making money renting for $25/AUM it ain't going to happen. Many experts think that the only way to preserve the infrastructure need to sustain the industry the numbers must come up and the only way left is dry lot production :D
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby Stocker Steve » Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:32 pm

I have seen the hoop house ads. Looks nice, but what happens when calf prices drop ??? I think you will be locked in with $$$$ of depreciating capital. It seems to me that hoop houses would make more sense for backgrounders.

The only cows I would consider feeding in a barn with a TMR are smooth mouthed. Otherwise, they feed themselves and calve on clean green grass.
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby Till-Hill » Fri Sep 04, 2015 8:27 am

Steve I'm more worried about spending $8,000 an acre and when calves drop than spending $1400 a cow for a long term building with many other uses besides cow/calf production. 50 cow barn calve twice a year in it and turn dry cows out in a dry lot?

I got to make some phone calls and get some hard numbers. EQUIP program doing a bunch of them. I hate that route but I heard one guy got 80% paid for..hard to pass that up..
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby bmoore87 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 8:49 pm

Till-Hill wrote:Steve I'm more worried about spending $8,000 an acre and when calves drop than spending $1400 a cow for a long term building with many other uses besides cow/calf production. 50 cow barn calve twice a year in it and turn dry cows out in a dry lot?

I got to make some phone calls and get some hard numbers. EQUIP program doing a bunch of them. I hate that route but I heard one guy got 80% paid for..hard to pass that up..


$1400 per cow sounds high, alot can depend on what you use for a base since the hoop tarp and frame are sold as one piece and the base its sits on another. Alot of differences in the bases and price have seen feedline bunks as a wall, cement blocks and pressure treated 6X8 posts. When you figure what land in Iowa is selling for min.$8,000-$10,000 in the area around us buying a 10 acre lot to put your cows on can really ad up. While a hoop on a couple acres makes sense in our area where it doesn't in others plus you get the manure to put on the crop ground.

Have heard you can get govenrment grants through USDA to put up new facilities since the DNR is big on them reducing pollution. I personally wouldn't do it. You take there money and they will tell you how to farm your ground. I know several people that have done this and find that out afterwards.


Maybe look for a used hoop know some people that have picked them up cheap as others have gotten out of business. Their pretty simple once you see them put one up you can do it yourself in less than a week with some help. :2cents:
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby mncowboy » Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:55 pm

I priced a 36' by 80 hoop, 8' walls made of 6x6 posts. Concrete 12' alley way along the bunks with clay through the rest, two waters, two awnings, roll up doors, hired help to erect at around $52k. Hope to start in the spring. When you go beyond 36' wide, the price increases because of the hoop style changes along with what's needed beneath the post.
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby Till-Hill » Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:34 pm

Mncowboy you putting cows in it or? If so I'd love to take a look!
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Re: Beef cow/calf in confinement

Postby mncowboy » Tue Sep 08, 2015 3:42 am

That's the goal. I also plan to use free-standing gates so when not in use for calving, it or portions of it can be used for other purposes. It wont be until next early summer if it happens.
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