Raising cattle can be a good source of income, but it also takes a lot of work. Knowing how to take care of them is important as they not only depend on you for their well-being, but you’ll want to be able to get quality products from them whether you’re rearing dairy or beef cattle.
To begin, it’s important to choose the healthiest cattle with eyes that are clear, bright, and free of any discharge. Avoid those whose bodies look hollowed out, instead, they should be full and rounded, moving easily and breathing regularly without a cough. Once you get them to your property, follow these tips to ensure they’re cared for properly.
Cattle need grazing areas and plenty of room to roam along with a good perimeter fence. They require forage to keep their digestive systems running properly. If you have a limited amount of land, consider that a cow needs one to two acres for grazing. For example, for 20 acres, the USDA recommends a maximum of 11 animals. Grass feeding is ideal, but you may also need to supplement with alfalfa, hay, grain, and corn.
Cattle also need vitamins and minerals to help keep them healthy and productive, which can be mixed in with other feed or provided in a feeder for them on pasture. Full-grown cows can consume around 20 gallons of water each day, so you’ll want to be sure they have an adequate supply of water too.
Animal identification is a must for maintaining accurate cattle production records. With individual animal IDs, producers are able to keep records on their birth dates, parentage, production, health history, and other essential management information. Custom cattle ear tags are a great option – they can be customized with your own text, numbers, and logo, are easily read, and often come with a lifetime reading guarantee.
Cattle not only need plenty of space, but they also need shelter, a place where they can be protected from the elements like the cold, rain, sun, and heat. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should have adequate ventilation and be cleaned daily to prevent the animals from becoming ill from unsanitary conditions. If they’re kept in a barn, you’ll want to provide fresh straw and clean out the stalls every day.
Monitor Their Health
Monitor the health of your cattle by keeping an eye on their feed consumption. If you notice a reduction in appetite, be aware that it’s an early sign of sickness. Healthy cattle should head to the feed trough every time a meal is served. Monitoring their vital signs is important too – mature cattle have a normal temperature range of 100.4 to 103.1 degrees Fahrenheit, a respiration rate at rest of 10 to 30 breaths a minute, and a pulse of 40 to 80 beats per minute.
Flies spread disease and can even cause open wounds. As cows produce a significant amount of manure, they also attract a lot of flies, so you’ll want to keep them under control on your property. A local ag extension agent can provide advice on the best fly control options for your area.