How to Care for Cattle

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Norman - the ranch steer
Norman - the ranch steer

Caring for farm animals is fairly easy for those who choose to live the lifestyle.

Provide your cattle fresh water every day. A mature cow, bull or steer can consume up to 20 gallons a day. Avoid wasting water by installing an automatic watering system.

Feed your cattle pasture. Cattle are ruminants, which means their stomachs have four chambers, and eating hay provides most of their dietary needs. On average, the recommended daily feed required to maintain healthy cattle is about 2 percent of the animal's body weight in dry matter (hay). You can also provide salt and mineral blocks for your cattle. Grain is considered to be high in energy and it is not recommended to feed your cattle grain.

Your cattle's pasture needs to be good quality and plentiful because this is what provides a majority of your cattle's dietary needs. If you do not have enough pasture for grazing, you'll need to supplement with hay. Cattle, on average, need around two pounds of hay per 100 pounds of body weight daily. I recommend purchasing a hay feeder to help them avoid wasting hay while eating. It's also recommended you purchase some type of covering to keep the hay dry. Wet hay may lead to severe health problems. It's recommended to have 10 acres per cow, steer or bull.

Cattle are easy to halter train and by handling them daily by brushing them & getting them used to being touched, you'll get them used to being handled, which in turn will be less stressful to them for future necessary handling, such as veterinarian calls & hoof trimming.

Shelter for your cattle should be well ventilated and waterproof. A 3-sided shelter, known as a run-in shed, out in their fields is adequate. They'll require this so they can make the decision to get out of incliment weather.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always make sure your cattle are up to date on all required vaccinations for your area. Rabies innoculations should always be up to date.
  • Always contact your veterinarian regarding any health questions on your farm animals.
  • Remove all plants that are poisonous to cattle from your fields. Contact your County Agriculture Extension Agent for a complete listing of poisonous plants in your area.
  • Cattle are not agressive animals, but always use caution as they can harm you without meaning to (such as swinging their head into you...believe me this hurts, or by stepping on your foot) Cows will also be protective of their calves.
  • Try to avoid using barbed wire for fencing, as this can be dangerous. I prefer electric fencing.

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