Feeding CattleWritten by David Selman, Tracker-Outdoors.com
A cow can eat 25 to 30 pounds of hay a day and waste a couple of more pounds. This adds up to 27 to 32 pounds per day per cow. Allow about half this amount for weanling calves and about three-quarters for yearlings.Large round bales often do not weigh as much as you might think. It is not unusual for so called 1000 pound bales to weigh 800 pounds or less. In addition, bales stored outside on ground may easily lose 20 to 30 percent more weight. Covered bales can also lose 10 to 15 percent if a portion of bales are in contact with ground. Look for additional forage alternatives. Beef cattle have ability to consume numerous types of feed and perform well. Hay can be expensive and in some years more expensive than others. Feed hay only when needed or when costs warrants doing so. A popular forage substitute is commercially prepared pasture cubes. These cubes, or large pellets, can be fed on ground but preferably in troughs and are designed to substitute for some portion of hay. Use crop residues such as corn stalks. When available, crop residues can trim many days off hay feeding period when pasture is limited. The use of supplemental feeds can reduce need for and consumption of hay. High starch supplement feeds such as corn reduce consumption of forage and hay. Corn may be "substituted" for hay. High starch feeds, such as corn, do decrease use of forages in a "free-choice" forage situation. But when forage is limited, corn can be used to "stretch" hay supply, especially when corn is relatively inexpensive. Cattle should be adapted to corn slowly over a 7 - 10 day period. As a rule of thumb, one pound of corn can replace two pounds of hay. Do not feed less than five pounds of hay per day with corn. With low-quality forages, protein often improves forage consumption and use. This is because protein requirements of rumen microbes must be met if forage is going to be effectively used. If hay doesn't meet protein requirements of animal, add supplemental protein. For example, adding as little as a pound a day of a 30 to 40 percent protein feed could increase total hay consumption and assist in keeping cows in optimal body condition. Soybean meal, cottonseed meal, corn gluten feed, whole cottonseed and commercial mixtures are some suggested protein sources. Provide adequate mineral supplements. Minerals do not have to be super expensive to work, but rarely are "cheapest" alternatives best. Genetically superior cattle have higher mineral requirements. This becomes apparent if nutritional needs are being stretched in a difficult weather situation. Processing feeds may or may not improve efficiency. Many feedstuffs (milo, whole soybeans) need to be at least coarsely ground or hammered to make nutrients available, while others do not. Most research has shown that only marginal benefits are gained from grinding corn. In fact, fine grinding of corn increases dust and makes it more likely to cause digestive upset. The best argument for using a coarsely ground or cracked corn is that it improves mixing with other ingredients. Pick a supplement that fits situation. Many producers do not have time to carefully mix ingredients and balance rations. Some do not have time for daily feeding. Some products, such as whole cottonseed, are excellent sources of both energy and protein, but generally require considerable labor in feeding. Consider labor and equipment in selecting a feed to stretch forages. However, most of low labor alternatives cost more. This is often termed "cost of convenience." A feed that is expensive to one producer may be a bargain to another. Manage feeding to stretch hay supplies. Feed in hay rings. Without rings, consider unrolling hay, but only if amount that can be consumed in one feeding can be unrolled. If too much is unrolled cows will use excess for bedding. Cut and remove strings on large bales fed in bay rings as well as that unrolled. Learn when to feed more hay. This is easier said than done. Sometimes last 1/4 to 1/3 of a large round hay bale is weather damaged, spoiled and has low nutritive value. Forcing cattle to eat this may decrease both production and body condition. Conversely, replenishing hay before cattle have eaten "good parts" of previously fed hay is inefficient and wasteful with limited hay supplies. Developing knack to feed correctly may require that manager carefully observe remnant hay in feeder to assess quality. Avoid excessive mud. Walking through mud very quickly burns energy. Many days of this can definitely decrease performance and body condition. It is also hard on person who does feeding. Increase hay allotment in cold weather. Nothing makes body heat better than consumption of plenty of good hay. Corn does not increase body heat as well as hay. A little protein will allow cows to better digest hay and increase body heat.
Introducing New Horses to Your Herd Written by David Selman, Tracker-Outdoors.com
People change horses as often as they buy new cars these days. "New" horses are always coming and going. There are people who have had 5-7 horses in as many years. Many of these "new" horses already now how to behave in herd. They know how to yield to dominant horse, how to read posture, how to get out of way, when to back down, and how to be a horse. Unfortunately, many of our pampered pets don't know a whole lot about being a horse and this can get them into trouble when they most need it.Since you can't ask horse, it can be difficult to determine how your new horse is going to act with an established herd. So it's better to be safe and control this introduction a bit than to deal with veterinary bills and frustration. It's always best to quarantine or keep a new horse separate from your established herd until you are sure that new horse is free of disease or any other malady. When horse is determined to be in good health, then it's fine to begin process of introducing him to herd. Many people that won't let their horses be with another horse because they are afraid they'll get hurt or that they are too valuable. Sure, getting hurt is always a risk --horses are some of most "accident prone" animals on planet. But, like our kids, we can't always protect them from everything. No doubt they do cost a lot of money, but horses are herd animals and they value companionship of another horse more than just about anything else. There are numerous ways to introduce a new horse to herd. Many people just throw new guy out into pasture and let him work it out with established herd. This can work, horses have been doing this on their own for years before we ever got involved. This method works best if you have a lot of room for horses to utilize their inherent herding traits just like they would in wild. But, if you have a confined area where territory has been established, pecking order, friendships, etc. then you may want to intervene in order to control success of new horse in establishing himself in herd. If you just have one horse and you are bringing in another one, you'll probably have two very relieved horses and your job won't be too big. Horses are herd animals and it takes more than one to be a herd -- it's really not a fair deal to keep a solitary horse. Many times you'll be surprised that if you throw new guy out with others that he'll go stand by himself and wait until he is invited in by dominant horse. However, if you have one horse to integrate with many others (which is more likely) then you may have some issues. It's likely that resident horses are going to set tone for behavior. Horses can quickly determine where they fit into dominance "food chain" on their own. They know their station in life, but they are also always trying to improve their status. Horses have nothing but time out in pasture -- they do this all day with other horses; flicking their heads, displaying dominant posture, and even kicking and biting when they feel like it's necessary to reinforce their position in herd. Leaders get used to leading. Expect that a horse who was dominant in a herd that he last came from is going to try to regain this status with new herd. Spoiled horses or horses that haven't had much horse to horse interaction but have had a lot of horse to human interaction may not know how to behave in herd environment. It's not your job to teach them, but it is your responsibility to have a horse that knows how to yield to another. By having them in herd, they are forced to play by horse rules ? they have to yield to dominant horse or risk consequences. This is one of best ways that I know of to teach a spoiled horse who is pushy with people how to be a horse. The Common Problem Technique Before attempting these techniques you should be able to interpret a horse's attitude, posture, and have skills to work in a round pen. My favorite method of introducing a new horse to herd is by giving all of horses a common problem to work out. I usually put 3-4 horses into a round pen or arena and work them all at once with new horse. If you only have one horse this is still a good exercise to introduce one horse to another. The common problem that we are talking about is you. You need to ask them to do things that focus on you as leader. Ask them to change directions, get them to draw in to you, hook on, move their feet like you want, etc. Make them all work. This gets their mind off their horse games that they play with each other and on to you. Look for signs that that herd is accepting new horse. If you see any inappropriate behavior (i.e. kicking, biting, etc.) ask them all to work some more. If behavior is good, reward them by letting them stand still. It can take 2-3 sessions or it may take many more before your horse is fully integrated with other horses. Don't rush introduction, it may appear that horses get along pretty well after first time but it's probably a mistake to do this once and throw them all out together. Your time is well spent to do this right and not rush introduction. Once you can see that horses openly accept one another without any stress or pressure from you, it's probably ok to put them out together. Don't get too involved. Let horses determine what their herd standing will be. You may be able to do this for a few minutes while you have focus of herd, but you're just wasting your time. The minute you leave, horses are going to work this out on their own. Obviously, if a horse is getting tar beat out of him by another you should get them working.