Fireside Education

These cold, dark winter evenings are a good time for curling up in front of the fire with a hot mug & a good book.  It’s a great time to get your farming education.  Before you buy your first cow you’ll want some good resources on the bookshelf and as much information as you can fit in your head.  The selection of books available is about overwhelming & it can be hard to figure out which ones will be really helpful.  I certainly haven’t read everything, but I have found several that are great & some that were not so great.  Here’s my recommended reading list to get you headed in the right direction.

Dexter Cattle: A Breeder’s Notebook, by Gabriella Nanci & Stefani Millman

I love this little book!  It’s definitely a must-have if you want to get started in Dexters.  There is a lot of great information & plenty of very helpful color photos packed in it.  It covers breeding, training, health and general management, & genetics and is a very easy read.



The Cattle Health Handbook, and

Essential Guide to Calving, both by Heather Smith Thomas


I got the first, not realizing it didn’t contain anything on pregnancy & calving, so I still need to get the Calving Guide.  The Health Handbook has very thorough information on all other aspects of cattle health.  It’s definitely a great reference to have on the shelf to consult when something goes wrong, yet it is easy to read & the author has included many personal anecdotes that make it interesting, too.

Humane Livestock Handling, by Temple Grandin

If you’re new to cattle & need to learn how to think like a cow, then this is a great book to get.  The first half of the book is all about animal perception & behavior and how to use your cow’s instincts for easier handling.  The second half is about how to design facilities that are low stress for the cattle, which is helpful if you’re planning on a larger herd.


Pasture Perfect, by Jo Robinson

This is a wonderful little book filled with the scientific data showing that grass-fed really is best.  If you need to convince yourself or someone else of this, then you’ll want to read this one!  It covers not only beef & milk, but pork, poultry & others as well.  And it’s a quick, easy read for those of us who aren’t so scientific.


All Flesh is Grass, by Gene Logsdon

Another great book by the contrary farmer!  I love his sense of humor & apparently share his “green-colored glasses”.  This book covers pasture systems, fencing, water & probably everything you ever wanted to know about pasture grasses & plants.  And who else could make it so interesting to read?  Highly recommended if you want good pasture for your animals.

1 thought on “Fireside Education

  1. I had read your list, but hadn’t copied it down, and I couldn’t remember which books were on it. When we were at Tractor Supply the other day, I saw the Cattle Health Handbook. Since it was by an author of a Storey’s book, and I have really appreciated my Storey’s Guide to Chickens, I decided to pick it up even if it wasn’t one of the ones on your list. Looks like I hit the jackpot! Of course we already have Gabriella Nanci’s Dexter book and think it’s really great. Now I’m going to try to find All Flesh is Grass. Thanks for your suggestions.


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