Hobby Farm in East Texas HELP

KWARRX

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Hello there !! I’m still learning about how to use this site so please be gentle

I’ve got a charlais brahma x heifer born in early August. She’s been weaned for a couple of weeks now and I can’t figure out if what I’m feeding her is good or not. Ive been reading from so many sources idk what to do- I’ve got square bales of locally grown coastal and compressed bales of alfalfa/orchard grass from TSC, I give her about 1/2 coastal and 1/2 of the compressed mixed together free choice daily and I’ve got two different kinds of starter feeds that is mixed and given daily (one is pelleted from local feed mill advertised as calf starter, the other is a seeded, pelleted, corny mix from TSC advertised as a sweet feed for horses and calves) I want to say the TSC had 20% or so protein and the local feed is at 16% protein.
My concern is how much am I supposed to be feeding her and is this right? I noticed she will look bloated in the evenings here lately but it goes away by morning.
Side note: She’s not in a pasture she’s in a fenced area near the house while our fences get put up so no free grazing.
Also is she big enough to vaccinate etc and what should I give her?
Any help would be appreciated as I am losing my mind here.

located on a modest hobby farm in East Texas with chickens, dogs, and a cat.
 

Baymule

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Welcome to the forum, we are in the Tyler area, so howdy neighbor. Was she a bottle baby or did you buy her already weaned? How much of the feed are you giving her?

@farmerjan can answer many of your questions.

She may look bloated in the evening because her belly is full. Ruminants fill their bellies then bring it back up in small wads, chew it and swallow again.

Don’t lose your mind, you are in a good place and we are a friendly bunch of folks. We will be glad to help. It’s obvious that you want to do the best you can by your heifer. Again, welcome to the forum.
 

farmerjan

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HI and welcome also. First off, some more questions and I will try to comment on what you said.
How much feed (grain) are you giving her? She should be getting about 2-4% of her body weight, in grain. There are different opinions. About how big do you think she is? For example. If she was born in early August, bottle fed for 8-10 weeks; she was about 60-80 lbs at birth, should weigh somewhere in the 150 -250 lbs at weaning. It is hard to judge.

How much was she eating at weaning? That should be your starting point as to how much she was eating and how much she should be getting now. 2% of her body weight would be 5 lbs (250 lb now?). Should be split in 2 feedings so she doesn't get "grain overload" from one feeding, which can cause some bloat . Just for VERY GENERAL REFERENCES.... a 5 gal bucket will hold APPROX 20-25 lbs grain. So a 1 gallon bucket is about 4-5 lbs. I would be feeding her about 1 to 1 1/2 of a 1 gallon bucket a day. It isn't a whole ton of grain, she can get foundered if you overdo the grain, but you do want her to get enough to keep on growing and not get shortchanged. I would mix it 2/3 local grain @ 16 % and 1/3 of the 20%. Too much protein in the feed will be wasted and can cause feet problems down the road. A big can from something like baked beans, the industrial sized cans, will hold about a gallon + of feed. These are for comparisons only, not exact.

I would be feeding her the local hay pretty much free choice. I would supplement with the alfalfa hay about 1 "flake" or section a day. It is very rich and a young animal cannot handle too much of it. Alfalfa is notorious for bloat, but it is a good source of protein. What is the guaranteed protein of the hay? It should be tested and marketed as such. The "bloated look" might be from the gorging on the feed/hay and then not much activity. Cut back on the alfalfa hay and feed a little more grain. Being drylotted will contribute to her maybe looking more bloated. Also realize that some animals tend to have issues, and she could just be one that has a tendency to it. She could very well get past it once she has some room and grass/grazing. Calves will get what we call hay belly.... it is from too much low protein hay that they don't digest very fast, and not enough grain. Mostly dairy breeds show it. Also, a calf on a cow will be getting more "fat" in it's diet from the milk and does not get the belly. It is not uncommon in bottle type calves and sometimes is just something you have to go through. But I would up the concentrate and make sure the hay is good but not too high in protein.

I think the alfalfa should be split into 2 feedings also, but if nothing else, should be fed in the morning so she is moving around more after eating it. She ought to be going through 1/3 to 1 bale of the local hay a day, again depending on her size. Once she has some grazing that will cut back some but while she is growing she needs "more " rather than less roughage. It keeps her gut working and she will utilize the bulk if it is decent hay. I would also be feeding 2nd cutting if possible. It usually is a little "finer stemmed" and will actually have more nutrition than first cutting which grows fast in the spring and is more bulk than 2nd cutting. We feed 2nd cutting orchard grass to our calves, and the older cows get 1st cutting.
I will feed 1- 5gal bucket of feed to a group of 5-8 calves while they are still nursing the cows, a couple of days a week, to get them used to getting feed. That will be about 3-5 lbs per calf. But they are competing for the feed in a trough too so they eat it faster and some get more, some less. This is to train them to come into the pen, not like your situation. But just a comparison.
 

Coolbreeze89

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Welcome form Central Texas! I know nothing of cows, so I'll leave the advice to the experts, but everyone is so friendly and helpful. I am new to hobby farming myself, and learning so much here everyday!
 

Mini Horses

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I will only add -- WELCOME from Va....and FarmerJan is in Va but KNOWS her cows! --- we are a friendly, wannna help group. :D

We love pictures. Most all of us started, worked, learned!! Many are professionals, a whole LOT of experience is shared.

Goats, chickens, horses (large & mini), donkey, I'm there for you.
 

farmerjan

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I just re-read your post and realized that I did not address any vaccinations. She should get a "blackleg" vaccination, now. Clostridial (clostridium) is the official name and it should be the 5 way or 7 way. I prefer 7 but it is not always available. They can pick up clostridial bacteria from the ground and it can kill them. We give it whenever we get our calves past the 6-10 week stage. Usually it is when we work the bull calves ( to become steers), and heifers through the chute, before we put them out on pasture with their momma's. It is best done as a 2 dose vaccine, but I believe the 2nd dose is 6 months after the first. Because we had so much wet/rain last year, we are now giving it to our cows as we pregnancy check and they pass an increased immunity on to their calves. It can kill an animal in a few days if they pick it up. It is treatable, but you seldom realize they have a problem until too late. Usually a calf is protected from the cow's immune system for the first 6-10 weeks and the vaccine is not very effective. Since she is not on her momma, I would get it and give it asap. It should be available at any feed store/co-op or TSC.... it is a killed virus vaccine and most brands are a 5 ml dose.

There are a multitude of other vaccinations that they can get. Most are for things like respiratory type stuff, bovine diarrhea, etc. (IBR, BVD, PI3), as well as Lepto. Lepto is the only other thing we regularly give the adult cows besides the "Blackleg". Lepto can cause abortion in adult cattle and is carried by all mammals so they are exposed to it when a dog pees in their field, or a coyote, or a deer or whatever. It is not necessary until they are at least 6-12 months. Make sure it is the kind that covers Hardjo B.... it is included in the Triangle 10. I personally prefer to use only KILLED VIRUS vaccines. There are 2 different brands that are all killed virus and they require an initial dose and a second dose in 4-8 weeks. You have to read the label. I don't have it in front of me, but I believe one brand name is Triangle 10. I am not sure of the dose for a younger animal as we do ours at weaning off the beef cows. They are 5-9 months, all according to where they are, what we are doing with the calves at the time, moving them from one place to another, or whatever.

Most vets are big on the MLV (modified live virus) types. The one thing you need to do, if you haven't already, is find a large animal vet and establish a relationship with them. Maybe get them to come out for an initial visit, yes they are expensive... Because you are new to cattle, it helps to find one that will answer your questions, give you advice on vaccinations that may be more necessary in your area, than say they might be here in Va.. The thing is, if you have already established a relationship of sorts, even if you don't need to use them very often (hopefully not), they at least have a background basis for what you have, what you know, what you could do on your own, and what they need to do. We give nearly all our own vaccinations, do worming when necessary, trim hooves on occasion, I do artificial breeding, and I can call the vet and say, we have this problem... can I stop and get a bottle of xxx antibiotic to treat this calf....Several years ago, any antibiotic that could be used also on humans, fell under the VFD as far as anything that could be added into feed. It has caused some states (California for one) to restrict even more antibiotics even if they are injectible. Many have always been on the advice of a vet, and even online companies require a prescription for many. We can still get some things at the feed store, but not as much as we used to.

One other thing to watch out for is coccidiosis. If the chickens have access to the calf, it is a good chance she is exposed to it. Chickens get it, often it is more of a carrier type deal, with them not showing signs. But chicks can get coccidiosis and bloody manure.
She will get weak, and often have bloody diarrhea. It is more common in calves on milk, usually at 7-20 days, but older ones can get it. It is not the end of the world if you catch it before the calf gets too weak. CORID is a liquid that can be gotten at TSC and other feed stores, you put it in their water and only let them have that treated water to drink for 3-7 days, or in their milk if they are on a bottle. Check the label. They will usually develop immunity to it as they get older for the most part. But it is something to watch for.

When she is between 4-12 months, there is Brucellosis (Bangs) vaccination that she can get. It is imperative that she get it if you are planning to milk her. It is to prevent Undulant Fever in Humans which was a BIG deal years ago. It has been mostly eradicated, and even some of the dairies I deal with do not bangs vacc their heifers. This is only done by a vet. I do every one we keep, for breeding, beef or dairy. For us it is an indication that they have had it, so are eligible to be shipped to any state. It is also for us a way to identify our heifers in the chance they get out....or stolen. They get a tattoo in their ear, and the vet has to do it. It helped us get back some heifers that gotten out on to another pasture and we had to prove our ownership. BINGO, bangs tags, and one that had lost her tag had the tattoo in her ear. Cheap insurance. It is a one time thing, and has to be done before 12 months, although each state can have slightly different age restrictions. After about a year they will show up as reactors, and it is not allowed to be done.
Bangs is not required and not even recommended by many vets or states. I figure a once in a lifetime $5 shot is worth it. Many of my heifers have some dairy cow in their background, and there are many I have milked over the years so I am playing it safe.

Hope this isn't too confusing .
 

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