New cattle have arrived - I need suggestions about weight gain

Ocate Stan

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Since I joined the group last week, we have had the addition of 14 head of cattle - 6 cows, each with a baby, and 2 steer. We got them from southern New Mexico where there is a severe drought. The ranch they lived on was huge - a few hundred thousand acres 9 BLM land etc). There is adequate watering via wells etc, but feed is of course a problem. The ranch has around a thousand head of cattle. So the animals walk long distances to find food and then come back to the water. Temperatures being in the 100-114F range, results in the animals drinkig large amounts of water, laying down and bloating. They then can not get up and die. We got some of these cattle. They transported really well and when they were off-loaded they dove face first into the luscious grass we have here as can be seen in the picture. A couple of the cows are very thin - hips and ribs visible.
They have settled down nicely and are exploring the pasture. No bloating from overeating - its been 4 days so far. But we are keeping an eye out for that.
I grew up in South Africa and on my grand parents farm the cows were grass fed but given grain supplements for fattening up the skinnier ones. Are there any negative sides to giving grain to cattle that have never had it before? We have salt and protein blocks out but they seem at this point not to need it. They grass we have here is mixed - years ago the pasture was a hay and alfalfa field so theres a lot of that with some other shorter grasses. Any input or suggestions from the group will be appreciated thanks. Have a great Sunday.
 

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farmerjan

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A couple words of caution... I do not have the same conditions you have in NM.... BUT.... since you have had no after effects from the fresh grass I think you will be okay after 4 days.... IF I were to do it... I ALWAYS put cattle in a smaller contained lot/ pen/pasture and FILL THEM UP WITH HAY.... it helps to get their rumen working with the roughage in there, before turning them out on grass because of the bloat you mentioned... Just a safe guard in my opinion....
Watch the alfalfa for frothy bloat; again, something I would first get them full of hay , then turn them out so the roughage of the hay will mitigate too much green all at once and too much alfalfa specifically.... it's like kids in a candy store and all of a sudden they get sick to their stomach idea...

I would give them at least 2 weeks to get settled in and accustomed to the feed/grass available. Then if you wanted to feed a little grain, I would go with only maybe 2 lbs per head per day since they are not accustomed to it. There are different microbes in their gut tract/rumen that have to develop to be able to utilize their grain without causing other "stomach issues"....grain can cause acidic rumen conditions, that in turn can cause it's own problems if fed too much. One other problem is too much "protein" will cause them to also be very "loose", so the cow patties are more like shooting a cannon through a keyhole type manure... so if they have protein blocks, if you were to feed any grain, I would go with straight corn and or oats... which are not terribly high in protein and will add to their rumen activity and help them put on some weight...
BUT, I think that you will see a marked improvement in their condition just from the grass . One thing you might want to think about is a general worming BECAUSE, going from dry/drought conditions, and being thinner, they will pick up worm larvae from the grasses there at your place, if there is any, and could cause a "bloom" of worms in their system... which can cause a problem down the road... but again, that is simply more of a "preventative" thing at this point. I honestly would just watch them close... if no issues with bloat, let nature heal them and put the weight on them... if you do not see definite improvement in 3-4 weeks, and they are eating good, then it is time to go the next step.

Oh, also, welcome to BYH forum... Glad to have you here...
 

Mini Horses

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Personally, I'd stay with what you are doing now. Let them recoup for a couple months to get their gut biome back and stable. Then assess their weight. Cattle are foragers and most often grains are used for finishing out or supplement for poorer doers, heavy lactation AND -- importantly -- for coming to call when wanted/needed.

Instead of cereal grains, alfalfa hay or pellets can be used. Protein, plus not a different thing to get rumen used to.

Enjoy those cattle -- I know they are loving your farm!👍🤣
 

Ocate Stan

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A couple words of caution... I do not have the same conditions you have in NM.... BUT.... since you have had no after effects from the fresh grass I think you will be okay after 4 days.... IF I were to do it... I ALWAYS put cattle in a smaller contained lot/ pen/pasture and FILL THEM UP WITH HAY.... it helps to get their rumen working with the roughage in there, before turning them out on grass because of the bloat you mentioned... Just a safe guard in my opinion....
Watch the alfalfa for frothy bloat; again, something I would first get them full of hay , then turn them out so the roughage of the hay will mitigate too much green all at once and too much alfalfa specifically.... it's like kids in a candy store and all of a sudden they get sick to their stomach idea...

I would give them at least 2 weeks to get settled in and accustomed to the feed/grass available. Then if you wanted to feed a little grain, I would go with only maybe 2 lbs per head per day since they are not accustomed to it. There are different microbes in their gut tract/rumen that have to develop to be able to utilize their grain without causing other "stomach issues"....grain can cause acidic rumen conditions, that in turn can cause it's own problems if fed too much. One other problem is too much "protein" will cause them to also be very "loose", so the cow patties are more like shooting a cannon through a keyhole type manure... so if they have protein blocks, if you were to feed any grain, I would go with straight corn and or oats... which are not terribly high in protein and will add to their rumen activity and help them put on some weight...
BUT, I think that you will see a marked improvement in their condition just from the grass . One thing you might want to think about is a general worming BECAUSE, going from dry/drought conditions, and being thinner, they will pick up worm larvae from the grasses there at your place, if there is any, and could cause a "bloom" of worms in their system... which can cause a problem down the road... but again, that is simply more of a "preventative" thing at this point. I honestly would just watch them close... if no issues with bloat, let nature heal them and put the weight on them... if you do not see definite improvement in 3-4 weeks, and they are eating good, then it is time to go the next step.

Oh, also, welcome to BYH forum... Glad to have you here...
Great thanks for all of that good advice. I have ordered deworming meds since the calves have not been tagged/castrated/branded yet...so I will have it on hand in case I see evidence of worm issues in the adults. Their cow patties have been green and a little loose but I fully expect that and am watching them for becoming too liquid. They will also be getting a vet check here in the next week.
 

farmerjan

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Sounds like you have good common sense with the cattle...A vet check will be good to give you their "status"... Have these been running with a bull so might be bred back or are the calves younger so most likely open?
Getting them just growing and gaining weight on the grass, getting slicked up and in a "positive energy balance" will put the cows in a position to start cycling and be ready to breed back if they are open presently. If they are bred, and it is highly unlikely for thin/poor cows to cycle and breed because nature "tells them" that their body cannot sustain a calf currently sucking and a new fetus growing inside... so they often do not cycle when real thin. Getting a vet to give you a "status report" on each cow is the best thing you can do, after just getting them to eat and start to get some good nutrition in them.

One thing you might want to ask the vet about worming them... Our vet will do fecal samples on the cows, to check for worm eggs etc... and you could them worm them according to the need. Wholesale worming is not good to do all the time... sometimes like when you just got them, it might be advisable to get them started out with a "clean gut tract"... but one thing you want to watch for is if they do have worms, and you have one or 2 that are needing frequent worming, they are the ones to cull... called "poor doers", or other terms, those kind of cows cost you in the long run. You want to keep cattle that tend to be worm resistant...
We run a cow/calf operation and my son also buys some steers, and bulls to make steers, and puts together "groups" of feeders to sell.... when prices are right. The recent surge in cattle prices has had us shipping our own weaned steer calves because we cannot justify keeping them... if the market crashes, I do not want to be regretting not selling these 450-550 wt feeders at the current $3.00-3.40 we are getting... when a 6-7 wt steer is bringing in the 2.50-2.75 range... not alot more money for the added cost of feed/grass/pasture/ etc and so on... So for now we are keeping more of the heifers and sending these steers down the road... We sold some at 515 lbs for around $3.30/ lb.... That's nearly $1700/hd before commissions... If a 700 lb steer brings $2.50 that's $1750/hd.... and you have more than that $50 increased return, in them, with feed/pasture costs.... not counting if one gets sick or dies... If this crashes and they go back to the $2.50/lb for 5 wts, we will only get $1250 for them...or drops lower back to the $1.50-2.00 /lb we were getting a couple years ago.... that's alot of money to "not realize"....
Not to tell you how to work the markets... but cattle prices are higher than they have ever been, the economy is getting seriously scary, and people in general cannot afford what beef is costing... we are keeping heifers now, because they can go on feedlots or they can be bred... steers can only go one direction. And the steer prices are just insanely high for us to realize any return on feeding them out to heavier weights.
Green manure is the grass as you well know... and they will be loose on grass no matter what... It sounds to me you are going about this is a very good manner going forward.... :thumbsup:thumbsup:thumbsup
 
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Ocate Stan

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Sounds like you have good common sense with the cattle...A vet check will be good to give you their "status"... Have these been running with a bull so might be bred back or are the calves younger so most likely open?
Getting them just growing and gaining weight on the grass, getting slicked up and in a "positive energy balance" will put the cows in a position to start cycling and be ready to breed back if they are open presently. If they are bred, and it is highly unlikely for thin/poor cows to cycle and breed because nature "tells them" that their body cannot sustain a calf currently sucking and a new fetus growing inside... so they often do not cycle when real thin. Getting a vet to give you a "status report" on each cow is the best thing you can do, after just getting them to eat and start to get some good nutrition in them.

One thing you might want to ask the vet about worming them... Our vet will do fecal samples on the cows, to check for worm eggs etc... and you could them worm them according to the need. Wholesale worming is not good to do all the time... sometimes like when you just got them, it might be advisable to get them started out with a "clean gut tract"... but one thing you want to watch for is if they do have worms, and you have one or 2 that are needing frequent worming, they are the ones to cull... called "poor doers", or other terms, those kind of cows cost you in the long run. You want to keep cattle that tend to be worm resistant...
We run a cow/calf operation and my son also buys some steers, and bulls to make steers, and puts together "groups" of feeders to sell.... when prices are right. The recent surge in cattle prices has had us shipping our own weaned steer calves because we cannot justify keeping them... if the market crashes, I do not want to be regretting not selling these 450-550 wt feeders at the current $3.00-3.40 we are getting... when a 6-7 wt steer is bringing in the 2.50-2.75 range... not alot more money for the added cost of feed/grass/pasture/ etc and so on... So for now we are keeping more of the heifers and sending these steers down the road... We sold some at 515 lbs for around $3.30/ lb.... That's nearly $1700/hd before commissions... If a 700 lb steer brings $2.50 that's $1750/hd.... and you have more than that $50 increased return, in them, with feed/pasture costs.... not counting if one gets sick or dies... If this crashes and they go back to the $2.50/lb for 5 wts, we will only get $1250 for them...or drops lower back to the $1.50-2.00 /lb we were getting a couple years ago.... that's alot of money to "not realize"....
Not to tell you how to work the markets... but cattle prices are higher than they have ever been, the economy is getting seriously scary, and people in general cannot afford what beef is costing... we are keeping heifers now, because they can go on feedlots or they can be bred... steers can only go one direction. And the steer prices are just insanely high for us to realize any return on feeding them out to heavier weights.
Green manure is the grass as you well know... and they will be loose on grass no matter what... It sounds to me you are going about this is a very good manner going forward.... :thumbsup:thumbsup:thumbsup
Thanks so much for all that info. THey are doing well and the vet comes this week for a checkup. I appreciate the market price insights too...we have 2 steer that are going to be sold around November (that's the plan now). 5 of the 6 calves are baby bulls...we will fix them after the vet has been and probably have steer to sell at the end of the year. I'd like to have our 6 cows and one heifer only through the winter. One of the cows looks bred now. I plan on breeding them for spring baby arrivals if they are healthy enough - we are lucky to have an AI ranch close by.
Thanks again for all the information.
 

Ocate Stan

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How are the cows and calves settling in? How is your weather? Hot like soo many ???
They are doing very well, thanks for asking. I had 2 cows that had rough fur when they arrived and I am seeing that fall off into a smooth coat. Calves are seen "frolicking" in the pasture. We have had warm weather... in the upper 80's and low 90's. 20 degrees cooler than where they came from in southern NM. We have a creek at the one end of the property and they bed down in the reeds along the creek. Scared me when I couldn't find them last week.
 

farmerjan

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Nutrition is a major factor in hair coat. If they are already shedding winter/rough hair that is great. Rough hair coat is another indication of possible worm infestation, but I think yours are much more likely due to the drought and poor conditions from where they came from.
Amazing how a 1000 lb animal can "disappear" like that....:gig.

Get the vet to do them(castrate) when he is there, he( or she) will probably give them a black leg shot and possibly a tetanus shot... cheap insurance against them getting sick or dying... then they are done and the cows can just adapt and they can be raised with the calmness that they need and grow well on the pasture. :thumbsup
 
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