Welcome to your next "Animal 101" lesson of the Farming Simulator Academy! Today, we’re focusing on cows. We'll show you how to buy cattle, take care of them, and which economic opportunities they offer. Let's start!
Tip! Cows are the most complex type of animal to care for in Farming Simulator. At the very beginning of animal husbandry, you might want to start with chicken or sheep.
(Video coming soon!)
In Farming Simulator, there are cows that do produce milk and cows that don't. Brown-Swiss and Holstein breeds are dairy cows. Angus and Limousin breeds do not and are only used for breeding. You sell them for a profit.
Before we tell you in detail what tools and equipment you need, let's take a look at the very basics for cow husbandry: feed and shelter. There are multiple options for how you can accommodate and feed your cattle. It depends on your financial situation and general farming operation.
There are three options: pastures, barns and barns including a feeding robot. While a cow pasture requires you to provide feed and water, the barns only require you to provide feed.
The cow pasture only produces milk, barns can produce manure and slurry, too. A barn with feeding robot allows you to deliver only the ingredients for the feed - without the robot, you would have to mix the ingredients yourself with a mixer wagon. More on feeding below.
You have three options: For the cows to be fully (100%) productive and give as much milk as they can, you have to feed them Total Mixed Ration (TMR) - consisting of straw, hay, silage and mineral feed. You can buy all the ingredients at the dealership.
If you don't have all the ingredients (or the time), you can feed them with grass or hay. By feeding hay, they will still be 80% productive. By feeding them only grass, their productivity drops to 40%.
Does your farm rely heavily on milk production, especially in winter, you should always prepare enough quality food for them to be as productive as they can be.
How to get water: If you keep the cows in a simple pasture, which requires you to provide water, you need to deliver it with a tank trailer. You get water by either filling it from a water tank that you can buy in the "container" tab of the construction menu, or you just reverse the tanker trailer attached to your tractor into water - a river or lake, for example. Water from a lake or river is free, tapping a tank container is not.
We chose the following equipment. We recommend starting with the cow barn, including a feeding robot. It's the most expensive barn, but you save the purchase costs for a mixer wagon as well as barrel - and therefore don't need to fill up the drinking trough. We buy the cows directly and have them delivered.
Tip! Barns have a liquid manure tank built in. Depending on how many cows you have and how much liquid manure they produce, you can buy a liquid manure tank in the "silo extension" tab of the construction menu to store even more. Place it near the barn.
Got everything you need? Then let's get to work!
Step 1: Buying animals
You have to make a choice between Brown-Swiss and Holstein (milk) dairy cows or the Angus and Limousin breeds (breeding). You can also choose between very young cows, 12-month-old cattle or animals that are already 18 months old. The difference is that from 18 months onwards, the animals can give birth to offspring. You can find more details on this under "Breeding cattle."
Tip! Don’t fill the barn to the limit. This will save you money, and you will also get new cows through breeding. You can then either sell them or keep them and use them to fill a new stable.
When you buy cattle at the barn, you can have them delivered for a small fee. Alternatively, if you have bought a trailer, you can drive it to the cattle dealership and buy cattle on-site to transport them yourself.
Step 2: Feeding & producing TMR
If you built the pasture, you will have to provide water by delivering it to the pasture with a tank. You don't have to do this if you built a barn. To feed them, you should provide Total Mixed Ration (TMR) to gain 100% productivity. On the animal screen in the menu, you can track what your animals currently need.
How to produce TMR (with the Kuhn RA 142)
You need to load the bales/pallets into the wagon. Grab them with a front loader and bale spike and dip them into the machine - you can see the wagon getting filled with the ingredient in liters. The machine then mixes everything into fodder. Deliver it to the barn! That's the approximate ratio to aim for with the Kuhn RA 142:
Step 3: Provide them with straw to produce manure
In order for cows to produce manure, they need straw. You fill it in at the respective point of the barn. However, the cow pasture is an exception. This is only used for cattle breeding and does not produce manure. If you have a cow shed, however, the manure will end up in the previously placed manure heap.
Step 4: Selling animals and products - or using them
With cattle, you have multiple options: selling the animals themselves, the milk or even the manure. Milk can also be be processed into cheese, chocolate or other products by selling it to a production plant.
Tip! You might want to pay the cheese factory, chocolatier or the bakery a visit. If you provide them with all the necessary ingredients for products like chocolate, including the milk, you can make even more money compared to just selling the milk.
Selling the cattle is only worthwhile if you have bought the respective breeds, though. Manure and slurry can either be used to fertilize your fields to increase the yield of your crops, or you can sell it to the biogas plant. You might want to save money on fertilizer by using manure and slurry.
Whether cows reproduce depends on three factors: Their age, the space available and the health of the animals. From the age of 18 month onwards, cows are mature and can give birth to offspring. But this is only possible if there is room for more cows in the barn, of course. Also, their health has to be at 100%. You can achieve this by feeding the animals regularly.
You can now take care of cattle. Take some time and start the next lesson when you are ready. And don't forget to check on your animals from time to time. Keep at it, and you'll be a top-notch virtual farmer in no time with Farming Simulator Academy!