Getting Started with Beef & Dairy Cattle

If you've been dreaming about raising a family cow, or even a small herd, here's the book for you! Whether your interest is in beef or dairy farming, veteran cattle farmer Heather Smith Thomas helps you make the experience satisfying, rewarding, and even entertaining!

A single cow can provide milk or beef for a large family with plenty to spare. A small herd of cattle will get you started in the rapidly growing business of natural dairy or meat production. Whatever the scope of your cattle-farming vision, it's crucial to identify your needs and budget, and choose the proper type and breed of cattle. You've decided to raise beef cattle but do you want to begin with breeding heifers or steer to fatten for market? When it comes to dairy breeds are you better off with a less-than-perfect purebred animal or an excellent grade (unregistered) animal? These questions and every other aspect of use, conformation, disposition, and milk or meat yield and flavor are addressed in thorough detail to give even the newest farmer the confidence to choose and purchase knowledgeably.

Beyond general standards and characteristics, Thomas also discusses specific breed attributes — Jerseys, for example, produce milk richer in butterfat than other dairy cattle — and how size, color, body shape, hair length, and milking ability make each animal more or less suitable to various needs. To complement the text, full-color photographs help you identify the many choices. Beef breeds include: American Shorthorn, Angus, Beefmasters, Blonde d'Aquitaine, Braford, Brahman, Brangus, Braunvieh, Charbray, Charolais, Chiangus, Chianina, Dexter, Galloway, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Maine Anjou, Murray Grey, Normande, Piedmontese, Pinzgauer, Polled Hereford, Red Angus, Romagnola, Santa Gertrudis, Simmenthal, Salers, Scotch Highland, Shorthorn, Tarentaise, Texas Longhorn. Dairy breeds include: Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey, Milking Devon, Milking Shorthorn, and Red and White.

With Thomas as your guide, you'll discover that successfully raising a cow for milk or for beef is easier than you might think!

$ 16.95 US

Buy this Book

We don’t sell our books directly through If you’d like to buy Getting Started with Beef & Dairy Cattle, please visit one of the online bookstores below or give us a call and we’ll take care of you. Support local businesses when you can!

Storey Direct: 1-800-441-5700


  • Paper
  • Pages: 288
  • Size: 6 x 9
  • Color: One-color with 16-page color insert; Photographs and illustrations throughout
  • ISBN: 978-1-58017-596-8
  • Order Number: 67596
  • Hardcover with jacket

More Books by This Author

thumbnail image

The Cattle Health Handbook

You can provide the day-to-day medical care required to keep your cattle healthy and thriving. Heather Smith Thomas, a rancher with decades of hands-on experience, addresses every medical situation likely to arise on a cattle ranch or dairy farm. In lively language that offers practical, easy-to-execute solutions, Thomas discusses preventive care and how to handle sick or stressed cattle. Her thorough coverage of diseases and disorders includes advice on how to treat:

• Bacterial, viral, and protozoal diseases
• Weather-related health problems
• Internal and external parasites
• Problems affecting every body system
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Poisonous health hazards
• Accidents and injuries
• And much more
Whether you are caring for a single dairy cow or a large beef herd, you can substantially reduce veterinary costs, increase the self-sufficiency of your operation, and improve the health of your animals.

thumbnail image

Essential Guide to Calving

Whether you keep a single-family milk cow or oversee a large herd, there is much to be gained by improving your knowledge of bovine pregnancies and deliveries. Your ability to effectively handle all types of calving situations is your best guarantee for the future health of your calves, your cows, and your farm.

Author Heather Smith Thomas has presided over thousands of calf births on her ranch. Her decades of hands-on experience will guide you through every situation likely to arrive before, during, and after calving — from routine births to nursing difficulties. It’s in your hands to give your calves the healthiest start possible!

“If experience is the best teacher, then Heather is the ideal person to write a how-to book on calving.”
— Kyle Haley, editor of
Limousin World

“Heather Smith Thomas is one of the livestock industry’s top ‘how-to’ authors. She’s a working ranch owner who lives the long days and the hard work of ranch life, and her writing is chock full of firsthand insight and copious practical detail presented in easy-to-follow layman’s language. This book is another great addition to her impressive body of work.”
— Joe Roybal, editor of
BEEF magazine

thumbnail image

The Horse Conformation Handbook

Horses with good conformation move fluidly, experience less wear and tear on joints, and are more apt to stay fit and sound during a long life of service. In this comprehensive volume, Heather Smith Thomas explains how conformation relates to structure and function and what to look for when evaluating a horse. She teaches you to see beyond a horse’s physical beauty to identify desirable attributes and potential faults, and with copious illustrations and explanations trains your eye to recognize the hallmarks of soundness, durability, trainability, and athletic potential.

Thomas begins with an in-depth discussion of equine anatomy and general principles of conformation, then addresses the critical components of horse evaluation: body proportion and balance, body and leg angles, and height. Next, she covers real-world applications of the principles of good conformation, including helping a horse succeed by matching him with the right job. She also explains how to detect “heart,” that indefinable quality that distinguishes a horse from his peers and motivates him to excel. The book concludes with a special tutorial that will train your eye to see what Thomas sees when evaluating a horse.

Whether you're buying your first horse, choosing a horse for a competitive sport, selecting breeding stock, or simply want to learn more about your equine companion,
The Horse Conformation Handbook is an invaluable reference.

thumbnail image

Stable Smarts

Whether you've been working with horses for 4 months or 40 years, there's always something new to learn from other horse people — a quick tip or handy timesaver that's new to you. Heather Smith Thomas practices hundreds of these useful tidbits, gleaned over a lifetime of working with horses day in and day out. Gathered here in a readily accessible handbook, they will generally improve and simplify the quality of life on the horse farm, while saving time and money in ways you never thought possible!

Other Storey Titles You Will Enjoy