Am I overreacting?

Farmer-ish

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Hello all, I have a 4 year old Hereford cow and a 10 month old steer that are starting to exhibit some behavioral problems. They seem addicted to sweet feed. We give them a little when we are working in the paddock (refilling the stock tank and hay) and they seem to get really angry if they don't get it or when they run out. The cow is the biggest problem- she'll toss her head and buck around if she only gets fresh hay rather than the sweet feed. When she has the sweet feed, she'll even let you pet her (my husband has been trying to get her used to being handled). The little steer seems anxious to get the treat, but quickly decides hay is fine and moves on. Momma cow will sit there and stare at me until I leave. Am I overreacting here? I know she's not a pet, and she is better when my husband is there and showing his dominance, but she still acts b----y. I would stop giving them the feed, but the only way I feel comfortable entering the paddock at this point is to distract her. We've only had her about 5 months. Thoughts?
 

Baymule

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Sounds like a child pitching a fit for candy. Stop with the sweet feed and get some cattle cubes if you want to feed her. I've never seen a cow refuse cow cubes. They are basically a big pellet. Horses get stupid on sweet feed too. It's like giving an ADDHD child candy.
 

OneFineAcre

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Pavlovian response
You probably should be giving the steer increasing amount of feed to help him gain weight before you butcher him
How much does he weigh now ?
 

OneFineAcre

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I made the mistake of making a steer friendly
Better 1000 lb animals aren't too friendly
 

Latestarter

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Greetings and welcome to BYH! So glad you joined us. There's a wealth of info, knowledge and experience shared in the multitude of threads. Browse around and see what interesting stuff you can find. By all means post away when the desire strikes you, especially if you have questions (provide as much detail/info as possible and pictures truly help)... With all the great folks here, generally someone will respond in no time at all. Please make yourself at home!

I'll tag a few cow folks who may be able to give guidance: @farmerjan @greybeard @Wehner Homestead @jhm47 and there are others with cow experience as well.

Oh, if you haven't done so already, PLEASE put at least your general location in your profile. It could be very important if/when you ask for or offer help or advice. You know, climate issues and such. Old folks like me :old will never remember from this thread. To add it, mouse hover over Account top right and a drop down will appear. Click on Personal Details and scan down. You'll see the spot for Location. Then go to the bottom and save changes. Thanks! Hope you enjoy the site!
 

greybeard

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Cubes are even more addictive than sweet feed. The're like candy to a baby, Bon-bons to Peg Bundy, Tide pods and gaudy jailhouse looking hand tattoos to certain millennials. I put cubes out about once/week, just to keep the cows coming to where I want them..less often than that in spring and summer (unless we are in drought conditions).
I don't do the treat thing and I don't have any 1500lb pets.

Unless there is a specific need for increased energy (from the molasses) there's no need to feed it. There are better (and probably cheaper) feeds available just about everywhere.

Not knowing the cow's condition, or the quality (protein and fat) content of your hay it's hard to say whether she needs any supplemental feeding or not. With just the 2 animals, liquid feed would be prohibitively expensive, but you might think about a good quality 24% lick tub. For just the 2, you won't need the 200lb tub..small ones are available. Either way, I'd stop with the sweet feed and feed a good unsweetened pellet or textured feed if you just want to. Beef animals don't need feed unless condition is deteriorating due to poor quality hay.

If you do have nutrition concerns, you may consider range meal as long as you can protect it from rain, and you should never feed it right next to the water source. She'll go from the meal to water back to meal and back to water and that's too much salt. Range meal is generally salt/CSM mix...the salt is a limiter, to keep them from just eating too much. You can mix some ground corn or steamed/flaked oats with it if you want an extra kick.
I feed it in winter in a covered feeder and leave it out free access along with round bales of hay.

The problem is, the pushy behavioral habit with the cow has already been established. Do not again allow her to get too close to you. It's your space and it has to be respected by the animal.

Probably won't go over well here at BYH, but a good whack with a stout stick or at least a sorting paddle does wonders for an attitude adjustment. When she's knocked you down and rolling you around on the ground with her poll is going to be too late.

A picture would be helpful.
 

mysunwolf

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I agree with @greybeard. Right now our hay is at 10% protein and not so good on energy. So we're feeding a general 12% protein sweet feed to our 300lbs and 700lbs Angus calves. If they get pushy with me, I quickly rap them on the nose bridge with the back of my hand and shout "BACK!" They don't get the feed until they stay back a good ways, then it gets dumped into the feeders. With your cow, I'd use a stick since you might hurt your hand ;)

Another thing, try to enter the paddock plenty of times without feed during the day as well. Be sure to carry your stick, and be prepared to use it if they get too close. Otherwise, just go on about your business: stroll through their field, work on some fencing, etc. They will get used to you being in there without the feed and will in time learn to leave you alone if you don't have the magic bucket of crack(corn).
 

Wehner Homestead

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Carry a BIG stick!! They make sorting rods that are light weight but made heavy enough to gain respect.

She’s not to be trusted and she’s making that clear. Give her her space and don’t turn your back on her.

One option would be a way to lock her out of the area that you are working like a small holding pen off of the paddock where the water tank is.

My DH can LEAD our cows wherever he wants with a bucket of feed. A few will try to steal a bite but most just follow until he dumps it. He does move fast as there is more of a chance of him getting hurt because we have more than 15 now and they are all jockeying for position and it would be easy for him to get injured on accident.

We don’t tolerate cows that give us the “look” unless their calf is less than a week old. (Protective maternal instincts are respected around here.)

Our brood cow herd does not get feed daily. We only give it to them when we are getting them in to sort/work and on occasion to keep them coming when we call. If I am having sweet corn for supper, we call them up to eat the shucks and cobs as a treat. Basically, if we call, they know a treat is involved.

If you are trying to fatten the steer, they need fed separate. She doesn’t need the quantity that he does or she will get too fat to breed and/or be too fat to deliver without complications. In addition, she has to outweigh the steer so she is going to get more than her share of the feed.

I’d stop the sweet feed cold turkey and only use it on occasion.

Also, if she’s this territorial now, she will be a force to be reckoned with when she has a calf on the ground. Proceed with caution.

Side note: I’ve seen tobacco sticks snapped with pieces flying when wild cattle challenged an adult male. That was years ago but around here we don’t work Cattle with horses and dogs. This is why we’ve culled our particular herd to the more docile bovines and replaces crazies with docile daughters.
 

Wehner Homestead

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I made the mistake of making a steer friendly
Better 1000 lb animals aren't too friendly
We’ve shown several of our cattle so they are quite tame. A few I would consider pets. They come when called like dogs. We have been around enough to know when they are feeding “frisky” (usually with a weather change) and need their space. I love that I have quite a few that I can let my children pet (with close supervision.) It’s definitely not something to take lightly though.
 
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