Will Cattle make you Money?
While full-scale dairy or beef farming is beyond most of us, many land owners are now considering the financial benefits of raising cattle on their lifestyle blocks – and for very good reason.
With an increase in lifestyle property owners across NZ, it is inevitable that interest in lifestyle farming should also rise – but where should you start? We posted an informative blog on breeding cattle a while back (you can read that here) – this is a follow up to that popular piece, with some important links that anyone considering cattle farming should read.
Hard Cash Cow
When looking at lifestyle blocks, the burning question is always ‘how do we make this land pay for itself?’ For indeed, the idea of purchasing a large block of land and having it sitting empty is not particularly enticing! So what’s the answer? Trees? Absolutely – if you’re interested in a long-term investment, then yes, a milling block will see your money return home to roost (we recently wrote about making money from trees – take a look here).
For those who are looking for a shorter term investment however, the idea of becoming a lifestyle cattle farmer can hold a fair amount of merit. We have been monitoring the markets for meat animals in NZ, and have collected some of the best sites to follow here for your convenience.
Useful Lifestyle Livestock Sites
My Lifestock Market is a fantastic site offering constantly updated livestock market pricing across NZ. It’s always a good idea to look at what livestock is currently fetching – this no-frills website offers everything you need to get a full picture of the potential value of your herd.
When it comes to the crunch, you’ll need a livestock agent you can trust – and you will certainly have your pick! Well-known names Elders and PGG Wrightson are at the top of the list, however there are many more online. The important thing is to find an agent who is familiar with lifestyle blocks, and who will work well with your vision and your needs.
Dairy vs Meat
Are we talking dairy? No. Unfortunately the dairy industry is still the domain of big players, as the amount of acreage per head vs productivity continues to hamstring smaller operations. Meat is certainly the way to look for any kind of income from your small holding; and there are strong guidelines surrounding the breeds of cattle that will offer the highest return on a lifestyle block/small holding situation. For more information of selecting the right breed for your land and your needs, take another look at our comprehensive cattle breeds guide!
Choose your Land!
Now to the most important part of the process – finding the right piece of land! For those who are interested in cattle, the land selection is important. Key features you should be looking for include…
- the size of the land
- the quality of the pasture (and hence the soil beneath it: don’t be shy about picking up a spade and turning over a sod or two!)
- the availability of water – having an onsite bore, a spring or riparian rights could make all the difference in the middle of summer!
- shelter belts, mature trees for shade and shelter (or a structure)
- winter feed storage areas and fencing
- the contour of the land could make your life more difficult if the land is particularly steep, so be sure to take the lay of the land into account too