Feeding CattleWritten by David Selman, Tracker-Outdoors.com
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Watch cows! Carefully observe body condition of your cattle. Strive to keep only minimal ribs showing; back bone and hooks visible but covered. When too many ribs and backbones are showing increase hay or supplement. Cows with poor body condition have been shown to be slower to re-breed and less likely to breed at all. This is particularly true with first calf heifers. Calves born to poorly conditioned cows are likely to have lighter birth weights and be more susceptible to scours and pneumonia. These calves often will not suckle and survival is poor. Severely undernourished cows may not have adequate colostrum to prevent disease. Nutritional Needs: Water - Clean, fresh water must always be available to your cattle. A mature animal will generally consume between 10 and 20 gallons a day, so be sure to use a container large enough to hold that quantity. Water needs increase with hot weather. Although initially expensive, you may want to invest in an automatic watering system (available through farm supply stores) as it will greatly reduce water waste. Salt - Salt should always be available to your cattle. Salt blocks and specially designed holders for them can be purchased at most feed stores. Feed - Cattle are ruminants (animals with stomachs that have 4 chambers) and consequently, rely mainly on hay or pasture for their dietary needs. Grain is very high in energy, and therefore we do not recommend its use for healthy cattle. Feed necessary for maintenance is approximately 2% of animal's body weight in dry matter/hay per day.
Pasture should be of a good quality & plentiful as it provides bulk of their dietary needs. Before pasturing, be sure to remove all plants that are poisonous to cattle. Contact your County Ag Extension Agent for a complete listing of poisonous plants in your area. If adequate pasture is not available, you will need to supplement with hay. Adult cattle need 2 lbs of hay per 100 lbs of body weight daily. Alfalfa hay is a very high protein hay and should only be used for sick or debilitated animals. To avoid hay waste, we suggest use of a hay feeder. If feeding your cattle outdoors, place hay under cover to prevent wet feed - a costly and unhealthy problem. To locate a source of hay in your area, check with your County Ag Extension Agent for a listing of hay/straw auctions or look in farming section of your local paper. It is less expensive per bale if you can buy in large quantities, therefore it is well worth investment to build some type of hay storage building or loft.
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Introducing New Horses to Your Herd Written by David Selman, Tracker-Outdoors.com
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Remember to stay safe. Don't insert yourself in middle of action. If you have to get "big" to keep horses from running over you then do it. This is where you are establishing your leadership role with herd. If horses are moving you out of way, you probably shouldn't be one doing this exercise. And just in case, I always carry a rope or progress string that I can use to send energy to a horse that isn't playing by rules. You may have more than one horse to integrate and that can be done with these techniques. After a while "new guy" will be integrated into herd because he's been working with other horses to problem solve. You may have too many horses to do this in a round pen. It's important to know that more horses you work with harder this is to do. It's not a good idea to work more than 5-6 at a time with this technique in a confined area. Any more than that and it's hard to keep up with all action. You can use an arena, small fenced area, and even a small pasture. A round pen is not important, what's important is that you control interaction of horses. The Buddy System -- The Slow and Easy Technique Assuming that you have separately fenced areas to keep horses safely separated, another technique that you can use is to put new horse into a stall or paddock within site of others. This way he can visit from a distance and watch interaction of other horses. The new horse will study others behaviors and learn what herd hierarchy is from a distance before he gets into mix and herd gets a chance to check him out too. Pick one horse to introduce to new guy to and concentrate on building a relationship between two of them. Start by walking new horse by other horse just so that they can see each other. Stop and allow them to smell each other, but don't let them interact at first. This is easier if you do introduction on neutral territory. Go on a trail ride, take them to a friend's house, work cattle, go to another barn/arena to ride, etc. There is nothing like working together to bring two horses together in a common bond. Eventually, you are going to put two of them together in a fenced area. For sake of safety and ability to control situation, you may still want to use some form of "common problem" technique in order to freely introduce two horses. The Wide Open Spaces Technique Provided you have a lot of unhindered space, you may be able to throw new horse in with established horse(s) and let him work it out with established herd on his own. Nothing new here -- horses have been doing this on their own for years. A good rule of thumb would be 1 horse per acre of land. You need more space to allow for horses to move, send horses out, invite horses in, etc. You risk more kicks, bites, and other injuries with this method. But, your personal safety is less at risk. Even if you decide that this is way you want to go, it's still a good idea to work horses in order to get their mind off of horse games with each other. If you can initially get horses to focus on you, they will be more likely to quickly accept new horse because of his cooperation with others. Many horses don't know how to be horses. We have a group of mares that we use to institute herd behavior with our new horses. There's nothing better than an established band of mares who will not tolerate spoiled behavior to teach a young horse how to behave. They learn about posture, yielding, respect, patience ? all of things that you want horse to understand with you as their leader. It doesn't matter where they learn it. What's important is that horse does understand herd behavior and how to be a horse. Your job is then easy? All you have to do is learn how to communicate with horses to become their leader. Set yourself up for success Use common sense. With any of these techniques, you will have better results if you set yourself up for success: When you feed, scatter food around so that horses don't have to eat on top of each other. You'll avoid a lot of accidents by spending just a little more time. Make sure that you have shelter for all of your animals. If you don't have enough protection then you'll have some of them attempting to push others out into weather. Establish a good quarantine program so that you don't introduce any disesase/sickness to your other horse(s). Stallions should not be introduced into a herd under any circumstances unless you know what you are doing. Young horses shouldn't be introduced into a new herd until they are strong enough to fend for themselves. Sick, injured and/or old horses may be better off doing their own thing rather than making them have to deal with fine points of herd behavior. You can introduce horses across a fence line, between stalls, on trail, or working. There's a lot to be gained in these particular cases by making sure that these horses have ability to see other horses and can visit from a distance without causing any harm or being hurt. A horse doesn't necessarily have to be in same fenced area as others to be part of that herd.
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