Cows : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We have gotten 2 cows this summer. What is the basics such as when do you wean calves, how old before you breed calves, how long till a calf is basically grown, approximately how much grass hay should you feed. I currently feed 1 1/2 bales and 3lb coffee can of corn per day.

-- Tom (, November 23, 2000



Some quick answers. Your county ag agent can supply detailed information. Generally:

Most calves can be weaned as early as 200 pounds if they are drinking water, eating forage and have a grain supplement. After that weight milk is more or less a supplement.

A rule of thumb is not to breed heifers until they are at least 700 pounds. I don't breed mine (well, my bulls do) until they are two years old with good frame and body size. If still too small they go to market.

A calf ought to be pretty independent by the time it is six months old.

Grass hay question is difficult since a lot depends on quality and if they are still eating green forage. A quarter bale each sounds about right though. You can somewhat judge the amount by how much they will eat in one session.

On the whole kernel corn. If you look at their manure pats you will most likely see the whole kernel corn there also. It just doesn't stay inside long enough to soften for digestion. I would suggest going with a higher-protein grain supplement, such as pellets, just as a treat. Range cubes also include minerals and salt. You didn't mention it, but they should have free access to a trace mineral salt block. During the winter you might also consider free access to a 16% protein block.

I assume you are going to breed these cows. A cow's gestation period is about nine months and three weeks. It takes them a couple of heat cycles (about 21 days between each) to get back into breeding condition. I want as many of my calves as possible between March 15th and May 1st. Thus, I pull out my bulls when the first calves appear and don't return them to the herd until about the 1st of June. This way the calving season doesn't creep forward, plus I can supplemental feed the bulls prior to the breeding season. For me, May 15th is about when spring really sets in.

With just two cows it will not be cost effective to keep your own bull. Alternatives are to rent one for about two months or to buy one at the local livestock auction and then return him afterwards. Your 'rent' there is the difference between what you paid and what he netted out, plus transportation costs. Even in my herd the bulls only work about three months out of the year and loaf the rest.

If you bought these as milkers, you might want one to calve in the spring and the other in the fall.

Hope this helps.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, November 24, 2000.

Before you buy any animal: spend as many hours/days/weeks as necessary until you feel completely comfortable with your knowledge acquired, that you can care for this sweet creature to the best of your ability. The time to acquire knowledge about animal husbandry is before you purchase an animal.....

-- Earthmama (, November 25, 2000.

I keep goats as well as calves and keep the calves on goats milk (if I have extra) until they are full grown. They reach weight and growth that I like much faster. Are they actually cleaning up 1 1/2 bales a day? I think they must be small bales or they are wasting a lot of hay. Corn does need to be ground, unless you like to see your feed wasted. Better to breed late than early, unless you want problems at calving. Good luck - diane in michigan

-- Diane Green (, November 25, 2000.

There is a book called "Salad Bar Beef" and it is one of the best I have ever read on raising cattle. It is based on common sense and a life of raising cattle by the author. It covers everything including pasture improvement. It is a must read book. I looked for it just now but Sharon must have hid it on me. When I find it I'll give you the name of the author. By the way this is raised organicly. It also maximizes profit.

-- Nick (, November 25, 2000.

It is Salad Bar Beef by Joel Salatin. It can be ordered directly from them at Polyface Farm, 540-885-3590. The way Joel maximizes his profits is he retails all of his beef directly.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, November 25, 2000.

I have had cows before as a kid so I do know a bit about them plus I looked into geting them by talking to various neighbors that have them, I just wanted various opinions. They do clean up 1 1/2 bales a day as a matter of fact they get 2 occasionally. The corn they get is ground with soybean meal mixed in and they have a range block. Right now they have no pasture they are in a feedlot until I get done fencing.

-- Tom (, November 25, 2000.

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