Question about 4mo steer behavior

Qchickiemama

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I have 2 steer calves in the pasture, one a good bit stronger than the other although they were born 2 days apart. The smaller one tries to suckle on the bigger one's urine and best I can tell, he lets him do it. Do I let them work that out or should I separate them for a while? Is it just a sign of youth or some deficiency?
 

greybeard

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How long have they been on pasture?



Sometimes, urine drinking points to a mineral or other nutritional deficiency. Usually salt.
Most of the time tho, it's just something they do, especially at a young age and even more so if they were bucket/bottle fed and recently weaned from the bottle, tho I have also seen momma nursed calves, bulls, steers, and heifers do it as well. Sometimes, they only do it when first put on pasture if they spent the previous part of their lives on dry lot or inside and will stop after a few days. Other times, it becomes a habit and in a herd situation, before ya know it the whole bunch is doing it.
 

Qchickiemama

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We got them around 8-10 weeks after weaning, and they've been on pasture here since then. They have a scoop of 14% cattle utility feed 2x/day as well as access to a salt block.
 

greybeard

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Well, there are a couple of neurological maladies that can contribute to the behavior, but pretty rare.
In the animal world, drinking urine (or worse) is not all that unusual.
You can separate them if it's a real problem, but no guarantee the little one won't go right back to it if they are re-united later.
 

WildRoseBeef

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What kind of salt block are you giving them?

And is this urine drinking followed by the smaller one raising his head up and rolling back his top lip right after? Or is this literal attempt to suckle at the sheath of the larger calf?

If it's the former I'm very tempted to say that the younger calf may still have some "bull" in him, as in a retained testicle, either as a crypto bull or just one missed testicle still hanging out there between the legs. I've seen this more in the missed bulls that we've had in our steer herd, more rare in actual confirmed steers.

If it was a mineral deficiency I would think you'd see the same problem in both calves, not just one. From the sounds of it I highly doubt if it's neurological, more behavioural of a young steer that may need a check to see if there's a retained teste hidden somewhere.

Just my thoughts. :)
 
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