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Newbie to beef cattle

Discussion in 'Everything Else Cattle' started by RollingAcres, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. Jun 28, 2017
    RollingAcres

    RollingAcres Chillin' with the herd

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    Hello everyone!

    I'm new to BYH and new to the cattle world. My husband and I have been talking about raising some cattle for beef, just for us (maybe down the road we will think about breeding/selling). We recently have a chance to purchase 2 Red Devon heifers (11-mo and 2-mo) and got them home last weekend. I have been reading and learning as much as I can.

    We are planning on raising grass fed beef on our land. We have 9.5 acres, which currently 1.5 acres are fenced for the cattle. We will work on getting more areas fenced in so we can rotate the pasture. We also feed them sweet feed once a day.

    I currently have some questions and I'm hoping to get some advice from you all.

    1) Since we only just brought the cattle home last weekend, they still won't let us go near them yet. We've been walking to them and trying to feed them some sweet feed but in the end they would just walk away when we get close to them (about 5-8 ft). Any advice on how to get them to come to us or not walk away from us? We want to be able to get near them so we can check on them or work on them if needed and for future vet visit.
    2) I have read that they need salt/mineral in their diet. Is there a specific kind of salt block to get for beef cattle?
    3) We live in upstate New York. Even though right now is summer, winter will come before we know it and snow will be falling. What advice do you have for raising cattle in the winter? We plan on feeding them hay, alfalfa and grain.
    4) We got them a 15-gallon water tank and filled it with water since 3 days ago. I've been checking the tank to see if I need to refill it but so far it doesn't look like they have drank much. Should I be worried? Do I need to "teach" them that that's their water source? They both did go near it, sniffed it and walked away.

    Thank you in advance for your help and advice!
     
  2. Jun 29, 2017
    greybeard

    greybeard True BYH Addict

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    4. They'll drink when they get thirsty. Don't let them run out on hot days. A mature beef animal may drink up to 20 gal of water/day in hot months. A lactating bovine can require even more

    3. Someone from that region would be a better source of advice than I would be, but even here in south East Texas, they need at least a wind break. Cattle can handle lots of frigid temps, and lots of rain, but in winter, not much wet cold wind. I figure you have about 4 months before the cold air hits your area. A simple 2 or 3 sided structure, on high well drained ground, with a roof will get them thru cold, wet, snowy nights up there. The side(s) the prevailing wind comes from needs to be covered. In summer, shade is all they need..any tree will work.

    In winter, free choice hay is preferable--iow, don't let them run out. If you can't do free choice, put their hay out in the afternoon. A belly full of hay is like building a fire in their gut and helps keep them warm at night.

    2. Loose stockman's salt and a good loose mineral. I don't do blocks. A mature heifer, bull or cow generally consumes about 4oz of mineral per day. That, is a lot of licking at a block when they should be out on the grass eating. Build or buy a covered loose mineral/loose salt feeder.
    [​IMG]

    If you have a tree to hang it from, these work great:
    http://www.cattletoday.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=69572
    It hangs at an angle, which keeps rain out of it most of the time. If you can't hang it, put it in an old tire, and get a "Wind and Rain" type loose mineral.
    https://www.purinamills.com/2.purin...andRain-All-Season-Storm-Package.png?ext=.png

    Place your salt & mineral feeders away from their drinking water. You don't want it right next to water. They'll eat salt then go to water, then back to salt..back & forth and can take in too much salt. If you see them licking each other tho, it's a generally a sign they need salt.

    1. Buy a bag of 20% cattle cubes. Feed them a little each day from a bucket. Just pour a few cubes out on the ground over the fence and once they eat some, they'll come running to you every time they see you with a bucket. Once they get a taste for those cubes, it's like candy to them. There's a 'reason' many folks refer to them as 'calling cubes'. Mine know what a sack of cubes looks like and I better not be standing in the way when they come thundering up...

    Personally, I don't do sweet feed. I've never had any cattle that liked it any better than unsweetened feed. Molasses does add some energy to the ration, but imo, not enough to make any difference.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
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  3. Jun 29, 2017
    RollingAcres

    RollingAcres Chillin' with the herd

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    greybeard, thank you! This is very helpful!
    1. I was able to get even closer to them yesterday with some feed. I saw that they were eating the feed that I poured in their buckets, so I got some more and walked to them.
    2. The pictured mineral/salt feeder idea is great. We are going to work on building something similar or like the ones from the links you sent.
    3. They do currently have a 3-sided lean-to, which we might add a half door at a later time. They also have a row of trees where they could go to get some shade. We are planning on giving them free-choice hay.
    4. Yesterday when I got home, I saw that they were at the water tank drinking. So all that worry for nothing, lol! :weee
     
  4. Jul 7, 2017
    WildRoseBeef

    WildRoseBeef Range nerd & bovine enthusiast Moderator

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    1. This all takes time. You're strange to them, but give them a few weeks and regular interaction with them, and they'll warm up to you.

    2. Salt/mineral important. Loose is certainly considerably better, but even in loose form you can't control intake rates because of the hierarchial/herd dynamic. Having the feeder NOT close to the water source, but rather out where they're eating or grazing ensures every single animal is getting the mineral they need. And they'll need the mineral all year round.

    3. Shelter is one thing, feed intake is another. Cattle in colder weather will eat more. They will need more energy in the winter, particularly during periods where temperatures are going to go down below their threshold level (which is around 21ºF) so make sure the feed they're getting is good quality. If you need to feed grain, about 2 lb of grain for every 10-degree drop in temperature will help them cope. Also, in the fall, checking their body condition score (done about the same time most northern US/Canadian cows get preg-checked) is a must to make sure they go into the winter NOT thin, but at a good condition where they have enough fat cover to require less feed and less energy than a thin cow would need during those wicked cold snaps. (At the same time, if those heifers are going into the winter above-conditioned (typically heifers should be around a BCS of 3.5 (on a scale of 1 to 5, one being the most emaciated) to be considered in "good" or "normal" condition; this would translate to, on the 1 to 9 US scale for beef cattle, about 6 to 6.5 BCS), it's a great reason to feed them poorer quality feed, or leave off the grain (which you probably will do eventually anyway) so that they can lose some weight prior to calving in the spring.

    Body condition scoring is another beast to describe. Typically you never look at the abdomen of a cow, but rather the fat covering over the bones of the hips, spine, and ribs. These are a couple great link to check out on BCS: http://www.beefresearch.ca/research/body-condition-scoring.cfm
    http://www.cowbcs.info/photogallery.html

    Here's more info on feeding cows in winter: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/faq7955

    Thing is, when feeding in the winter, thin cows will eat more feed and need more TLC during the winter. Winter is also a crap time to try to make those cows put on weight. So, make sure those girls go in winter relatively fat and sassy!

    4. As GB said, if the get thirsty enough, they'll find out where and how to get their water. :)
     
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  5. Jul 14, 2017
    RollingAcres

    RollingAcres Chillin' with the herd

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    @WildRoseBeef thank you and very nice to "meet" you!
    We bought a bale of alfalfa for the cows but they barely touched it. Not sure if they just don't like it, or just prefer grazing out in the pasture. Who wants dried up alfalfa when there's tons of fresh grass to eat, right? We'll get them good quality feed for the winter and will also supplement with some grain. They do currently get some grain every few days. Mainly to get them get used to us. The older of the 2 will come near me and sniff my hand, the younger one still needs some time.
     
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  6. Jul 14, 2017
    Alaskan

    Alaskan Overrun with beasties

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    Just FYI, I love training cattle to come when you call. Of course that is done by feeding them.

    However, I wouldn't ever want to train them to eat out of my hand. Even a soft head bump from a cow is pretty powerful.

    As far as winter housing. ...how much snow do you get? Snow over 3 feet and it will start rolling into your open shelter and eat up space.

    With a big enough shelter, and the wind side closed, you should be fine...but do think it through.
     
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  7. Jul 17, 2017 at 2:31 PM
    RollingAcres

    RollingAcres Chillin' with the herd

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    We do get a lot of snow up here and will definitely keep that in mind. Thank you!
     
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