Older highland cattle heifer

Cowgirlup82

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We purchased a highland heifer in June. We were told she was 4-6 months her horns were not even out yet, about 2 weeks after we brought her home she started getting diarrhea. She was on pasture then we switched to alfalfa. 2 months ago we switched to alfalfa/grass mix. She has pudding like stool now. She is still moving around and active. She loves electrolytes (goes crazy for them). She lost a little weight and not sure what I can use to help her put it back on. I give her a little calf starter every once in a while but don't want to overdue it. Thanks
 

farmerjan

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First off congrats on the heifer.

Have you had cattle before ??? Not to be nosy, need to know your level of expertise.

Highlands are a grazing/pasture breed. She should NOT be getting alfalfa for more than 25% of her intake. It is too rich for a heifer that was strictly on grass. You found that out with the diarrhea. You completely changed the microbes in her gut tract and it was not good. Never change feed completely .... and if in doubt always feed a plain mixed grass hay for starters. Get them full so their guts are working, so their rumens are working and they are using the bulk to keep their systems insynch.
Since she is weaned, she is not getting any of the benefits that older calves get from the cows milk, and she needs additional nutrition that she will not get from hay alone. She should be getting some form of additional nutrition if you want her to continue to grow. Calf starter now and then is going to keep changing her gut tract microbes. Give her grain regularly while she is growing. A couple pounds a day.... like a coffee can or a scooper of some type every day. Doesn't have to be alot. If you have a 5 gal bucket, it will hold on average 20-30 lbs of feed all according to pellets or sweet feed or whatever. Take a 50 lb bag of feed, put it in 2 /5 gallon buckets so you have an idea of how much it holds. Then take a small bucket, like 8 qt size or smaller and weigh it on a scale with the feed. If it weighs say 10 lbs.... then give her 1/4 of the bucket.... 2-3 lbs a feeding. Once she gets accustomed to it, then she will start to grow. You may need to up it a little....as she gets a little bigger.
Alfalfa is high protein, it will upset them if they get too much. You need as much in energy as you do in protein. Give her a good calf grower....14-16% is plenty of protein. She needs the energy that something like corn supplies.... and oats are a very good feed for growing calves. Some feed stores sell a "sweet oat" which is oats with molasses which they like. The alfalfa will also cause founder and if she gets that, it affects her feet and she could wind up with severe problems. It takes alot of high protein feed but be aware of it. Horses often founder from getting too much concentrated feed...
Don't get me wrong, alfalfa is good feed but it has to be fed with total consumption in mind. I feed it to my dairy nurse cows when they have calves on them. They are producing alot of milk to feed 2-4 calves.... but they will only get about 2 "leafs" or sections of alfalfa along with free choice grass hay and grain.

Don't continue to give her the electrolytes unless she starts scouring again. It is alot of sugar and that causes upsets in the gut tract too. Give her a handful of grain instead, and she will love you for that.

Please post again, give some idea of total feed consumption, what sort of pasture/grazing you have.... anything else that you want to ask. I am not an expert but have had cattle for quite a few years and might be able to help.
 

Cowgirlup82

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Thank you yesThese are our first cows.They are on pasture but mostly feeding grass hay mostly.
First off congrats on the heifer.

Have you had cattle before ??? Not to be nosy, need to know your level of expertise.

Highlands are a grazing/pasture breed. She should NOT be getting alfalfa for more than 25% of her intake. It is too rich for a heifer that was strictly on grass. You found that out with the diarrhea. You completely changed the microbes in her gut tract and it was not good. Never change feed completely .... and if in doubt always feed a plain mixed grass hay for starters. Get them full so their guts are working, so their rumens are working and they are using the bulk to keep their systems insynch.
Since she is weaned, she is not getting any of the benefits that older calves get from the cows milk, and she needs additional nutrition that she will not get from hay alone. She should be getting some form of additional nutrition if you want her to continue to grow. Calf starter now and then is going to keep changing her gut tract microbes. Give her grain regularly while she is growing. A couple pounds a day.... like a coffee can or a scooper of some type every day. Doesn't have to be alot. If you have a 5 gal bucket, it will hold on average 20-30 lbs of feed all according to pellets or sweet feed or whatever. Take a 50 lb bag of feed, put it in 2 /5 gallon buckets so you have an idea of how much it holds. Then take a small bucket, like 8 qt size or smaller and weigh it on a scale with the feed. If it weighs say 10 lbs.... then give her 1/4 of the bucket.... 2-3 lbs a feeding. Once she gets accustomed to it, then she will start to grow. You may need to up it a little....as she gets a little bigger.
Alfalfa is high protein, it will upset them if they get too much. You need as much in energy as you do in protein. Give her a good calf grower....14-16% is plenty of protein. She needs the energy that something like corn supplies.... and oats are a very good feed for growing calves. Some feed stores sell a "sweet oat" which is oats with molasses which they like. The alfalfa will also cause founder and if she gets that, it affects her feet and she could wind up with severe problems. It takes alot of high protein feed but be aware of it. Horses often founder from getting too much concentrated feed...
Don't get me wrong, alfalfa is good feed but it has to be fed with total consumption in mind. I feed it to my dairy nurse cows when they have calves on them. They are producing alot of milk to feed 2-4 calves.... but they will only get about 2 "leafs" or sections of alfalfa along with free choice grass hay and grain.

Don't continue to give her the electrolytes unless she starts scouring again. It is alot of sugar and that causes upsets in the gut tract too. Give her a handful of grain instead, and she will love you for that.

Please post again, give some idea of total feed consumption, what sort of pasture/grazing you have.... anything else that you want to ask. I am not an expert but have had cattle for quite a few years and might be able to help.
First off congrats on the heifer.

Have you had cattle before ??? Not to be nosy, need to know your level of expertise.

Highlands are a grazing/pasture breed. She should NOT be getting alfalfa for more than 25% of her intake. It is too rich for a heifer that was strictly on grass. You found that out with the diarrhea. You completely changed the microbes in her gut tract and it was not good. Never change feed completely .... and if in doubt always feed a plain mixed grass hay for starters. Get them full so their guts are working, so their rumens are working and they are using the bulk to keep their systems insynch.
Since she is weaned, she is not getting any of the benefits that older calves get from the cows milk, and she needs additional nutrition that she will not get from hay alone. She should be getting some form of additional nutrition if you want her to continue to grow. Calf starter now and then is going to keep changing her gut tract microbes. Give her grain regularly while she is growing. A couple pounds a day.... like a coffee can or a scooper of some type every day. Doesn't have to be alot. If you have a 5 gal bucket, it will hold on average 20-30 lbs of feed all according to pellets or sweet feed or whatever. Take a 50 lb bag of feed, put it in 2 /5 gallon buckets so you have an idea of how much it holds. Then take a small bucket, like 8 qt size or smaller and weigh it on a scale with the feed. If it weighs say 10 lbs.... then give her 1/4 of the bucket.... 2-3 lbs a feeding. Once she gets accustomed to it, then she will start to grow. You may need to up it a little....as she gets a little bigger.
Alfalfa is high protein, it will upset them if they get too much. You need as much in energy as you do in protein. Give her a good calf grower....14-16% is plenty of protein. She needs the energy that something like corn supplies.... and oats are a very good feed for growing calves. Some feed stores sell a "sweet oat" which is oats with molasses which they like. The alfalfa will also cause founder and if she gets that, it affects her feet and she could wind up with severe problems. It takes alot of high protein feed but be aware of it. Horses often founder from getting too much concentrated feed...
Don't get me wrong, alfalfa is good feed but it has to be fed with total consumption in mind. I feed it to my dairy nurse cows when they have calves on them. They are producing alot of milk to feed 2-4 calves.... but they will only get about 2 "leafs" or sections of alfalfa along with free choice grass hay and grain.

Don't continue to give her the electrolytes unless she starts scouring again. It is alot of sugar and that causes upsets in the gut tract too. Give her a handful of grain instead, and she will love you for that.

Please post again, give some idea of total feed consumption, what sort of pasture/grazing you have.... anything else that you want to ask. I am not an expert but have had cattle for quite a few years and might be able to help.
We are giving her grass hay now maybe a flake or so along with the scoops of calf starter. We have her in a separate area with her own shelter and feed/water until she gets a little bigger because we have horses and other yearling highland/Holstein cows. Thank you for your help
 

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farmerjan

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She's cute. Don't see that many white ones, mostly all the reds. That's great that she has her own pen to be able to not fight off everyone else for her feed. How many head do you have? You mentioned holstein/highland crosses. Are they for meat or will you try to milk one for the house? I have several jerseys, and crosses of jer/hol and guernsey/hol that I use as nurse cows and raise calves on. Also have some that are hol/ang and jer/ang that I run with the beef cattle. Some will have better udders than others, some make too much milk for one calf so often I will put a 2nd calf on them.


I think that she will get along fine. You learned quickly that the alfalfa was too rich for her system, straight; although it is a good source of nutrition if you use it as a supplement. We feed some to our sheep when they are getting close to lambing for the extra nutrition, but they also have grass hay in front of them most of the time. They will get a little grain also since the lambs take up so much room inside, they can get almost "starved" because they cannot eat enough to keep up their condition with the lambs crowding out their inside reserve food space. They eat a little and more often... but since sheep are ruminants, they need to "chew their cud" so to speak and when they are close to lambing, they just run out of room inside for the lambs and feed.... That's where the alfalfa comes in handy....like with my nurse cows, they get a higher level of nutrition in the hay .....hay that they will normally eat a certain amount.... but don't want them to have too rich a diet or they will get digestive issues, like you found out. Cows will also get acidosis.... too rich a diet, or too concentrated, and the PH in the rumen gets out of whack and causes problems too. Easier to supplement a plain grass hay than to tone down a high protein/too rich diet.

And by the way I meant to say :welcome:welcome:welcome:frow:frow:frow:frow
 

Cowgirlup82

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We have five head cattle total. Her we named Firefly she is changing to a silver though her face is staying white while the rest is getting darker. Then a yearling highland brindle Periwinkle, and a highland yearling red bull we named Thor and the two holsteins. We are planning for meat mostly. I am glad I found this backyard herd site. Thank you again
 

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Cowgirlup82

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I wanted to give an update on the silver heifer and to say Thank you for your help. She is gaining weight and filling in much so better and her stool is back to normal. I will send an updated picture when I can.
 

farmerjan

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Glad to know that she is gaining weight and looking better. Nothing wrong with asking for some advice if you are not sure. Some of us have been doing this awhile and seen alot of things. Sometimes I get it wrong. Stick around, we like to have all the new friends we can.
 
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