Getting Started - Plans for Cattle in 2022 - Questions

HomesteaderWife

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So I have not been terribly active here as of late, my apologies. But our plans are set to get a set of calves next year to raise and train as working oxen. Our hearts are set on Herefords for our pair. 2022 is our goal to get ready for our pair.

As this will be the first time we've had cattle, I'd love some information/links/articles or even personal input on a few things.

What vaccinations and dewormers would be necessary for an animal that would not be for beef or breeding, just kept as a working animal? They would be castrated, and we have a duel farm/pet veterinarian locally.

What recommended feed/feeding plan for these animals?

Has anyone ever had experience grazing their cattle in the garden area when not in use, as fertilizer and brush control? Or is this not a wise idea? My husband mentioned this as a way to rotationally graze them and help the garden plot a bit. But I would like to know any harm or benefits to this method.

Do you have a halter-trained cattle friend, and if so, how did you go about training them?

Do you have experience training or working with oxen?

Thank you for any input, tips, articles, and etc. I look forward to learning more!
 

HomesteaderWife

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Thank you @Baymule!

I would also like any input on fencing possibly, experiences with different fencing types or combos for them. Thanks kindly all
 

farmerjan

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@HomesteaderWife ... my plans got put off a little bit... my dad passed away and the services are not going to be til next week due to several circumstances. I will try to answer a little bit, but not sure how much I can answer.

Fencing... "woven wire - field fence" usually about 48 inches high.. get 6 " stays not 12" as they will try to reach through it... 6" is sturdier.. It will keep sheep in although 4" stays are better for sheep and goats... there is the no-climb horse type fence.. but it is alot more expensive... BUT.... nothing will be putting their head through trying to reach the "grass is always greener" on the other side of the fence. Middle way up and top of the field fence run a strand of electric to keep them "off the fence" and it will last alot longer... Alot of people use just electric for cattle... 1 or 2 or 3 strands ... lots of pros and cons... but it will not keep most goats or sheep in without alot of training so if you are thinking of having, or already have any other livestock... not practical. 4" will also keep most chickens in... not chicks... and most predators will be deterred. No climb will keep chickens in and predators out except if they dig under.
Fence should be within 4 inches of the ground to discourage predators and reaching under...2 inches is better....
Chain link is useless for cattle... they will lean on it/rub against it and stretch it out. Not strong enough... can't get it and KEEP it tight enough... Split rail looks nice... have to be at least 4 rails... Board fence looks nice... 4 rails minimum and they will push against both. Expensive... won't keep any smaller livestock in.
To build it right, posts and braces etc... unless you have some experience.... and some equipment to do it... get a professional to do it... Costly yes, but it is done and up in a couple days at most. If you have someone that is knowledgable in posts and braces, and a tractor to be able to handle the 330 ft rolls, and to stretch them, then do it yourself... But the key to good fencing is bracing and TIGHT stretching...

Find an association near you with draft animals... see if you can find a mentor to help you with the learning.
Calves that are designed to be an ox pair are usually started together... yoked together as calves so they learn to do things as a pair. Yes, you can halter break them as calves so they can be led around and taught to be calm and responsive. Learn the terminology... Gee, Haw and all so that they get it from the start.
Herefords will be an okay breed... but they will not have the size to be "big oxen" .... and you need to lean towards taller type,,,, more leg.... rather than short and squat meat type...
Understand that they will eat, and eat alot. As calves you will raise them like any other calf... milk replacer... good calf grain, good hay so they grow and don't get pot bellied. You are wanting them to develop, body and bone...
You will be hard pressed to find herefords as baby calves since 90% of the people with beef cattle do not pull calves off as babies... they stay on the cow until 5-8 months and get sold as feeders... Most will be castrated because steers bring more than bulls at that age at the stockyard sales. They won't be halter broke or "pets" for the most part. Halter breaking at that age will be harder.... and yoke training will be even harder....

You need to find someone with oxen to learn from. I don't have hardly an experience with them... had friends in the New England states with some years ago... but I never spent much time with them because I was into horses as a kid, and dairy cattle long before I got into beef....
There are alot of holstein steers as oxen up north... calves are very available and they get big for the guys that use them for pulling. Also breeds that are used... mostly for their size... are chianina's and "chi" crosses.... Durhams are also popular and shorthorns as they can be dual purpose.
 

Mini Horses

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I typed "train oxen" into Google search and several things came up ;)

Looked at one from Mother Earth News which gave a lot of good basic info from a newbie searching situation...much was from oxen owners and would be a sensible read for preparation from your idea to wherever it goes. Of course we will want updates! 😁
 

farmerjan

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Vaccinations will be the same as for any calf. Follow the vet's recommendations. Older animals will need some basics.. again the vet is your best source. There are some things that they need as a calf.... 7 way blackleg is essential.... then all according to what the vet suggests. I use Triangle 10 which is a killed virus vaccine... and it covers about anything an older animal needs... we do not do much vaccinating after they get to adult age. Many vets want MLV vaccines but I will not use them. One reason is we never know who will be exposed to pregnant cattle and MLV types can cause abortion. Obviously not a concern for you. I just prefer killed virus ones.
Worming the same thing... We do very little worming on older animals, and try to keep those that seem to stay in condition. Since there will only be these 2, you will not have the same option to cull an animal that is a chronic problem. So, fecals done by a vet. Do not worm on a "schedule"... they may very well not need it so don't waste the money. It will also be detrimental to their system to use drugs if they don't need them.

Grazing anywhere should not be a problem. Although, there should not be much in the garden to really "graze" . They will not usually eat the old dead tomato vines, or potato vines... and all that stuff should be dead before you are finished with the garden for the fall/winter. Just letting them in there to have more area to pick through should not be a problem. I used to like to let hogs in the garden to get all the weed roots and stuff "tilled up" with their noses... then the garden tilled/harrowed to get it smooth in the spring and plant.

@Mini Horses horses is right and yes MEN has some good "beginner basics".... one of my favorite magazines from the 70's "homesteader movement"....
 

HomesteaderWife

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I have done research online in the past, for a few years actually, as well as ordered an old used copy of the Oxen book by mister Drew Conroy which has not yet made it here but will be my first go-to reading source in regards to training. He luckily is still training to this day, so I would hope to email any questions I could not find answers to. I asked him initially if he had any copies of the book available since it seemed so hard to find, and he informed me the publisher essentially said not enough copies were being sold so it was never printed again. I intend to write the publisher and ask them to re-print it or even perhaps petition it, because there is a growing resurgence of people getting back to roots and wanting to learn these skills.

I will be looking into the book by mister Carmen Legge next once I've finished this one. On top of watching a few videos of those training and working with their oxen, reaching out to any sources.

As for breed, I know Hereford is not the typical breed of choice, but some people do still work them. I reached out by email to a man in the NE of the United States but have not heard back, who apparently shows his Hereford oxen. They would not be pulling any large loads, so the size of them is perfect for what we are aiming for. The goal is to have them pull very small logs for firewood or to the sawmill area. The reason we aimed more for Herefords is the temparment, alongside availability. I would be looking to make sure the farm they came from was a responsible caretaker with a healhy herd.

Fencing is the biggest talking point right now for us. But first will be clearing the spot we want them to be at.

I'll update as plans come to life, the first thing being getting the book and going through Mr. Conroy's information and experiences.
 

Alaskan

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My grandfather had a herd of Herfords. He specifically selected for individuals that were very respectful of the fence.

So, over the years, as his fences deteriorated, it didn't matter since his cattle were very respectful of the fences.

Personality/temperament are hugely genetic.

Find a herd where they are all easy going and calm.
 

HomesteaderWife

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@Alaskan - Thank you for the input! This will be a huge factor for me, selecting from a herd that not only is healthy and well kept by a caring farm/individual, but selecting from stock that is well-minded.
 

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