Small Beef Cattle Farm



Some Management Considerations 

 Nutritional Management on Pasture: 
     When cattle are on grass the amount of forage consumed will determine how well they will perform, usually expressed in average daily gain. Growing beef cattle will consume approximately 2.5 percent of their body weight each day depending  on forage maturity and palatability. It requires approximately 8 to 10 pounds of high quality roughage for every pound of gain. Thus a 600 pound growing calf consuming 15 pounds of high quality roughage may gain approximately 1.5 to 2.0 pounds each day. This level of average daily gain may be increased when a concentrate, such as barley or corn, is fed to the cattle on grass. This will also increase the number of animals that can be placed on a pasture. If concentrate is fed it should be fed at relatively low levels 2 to 4 pounds per head per day in a feed trough while cattle are on pasture. The prices of the various commodities will dictate for any given year if this is economically advantageous. Vitamins and minerals must also be provided.

Nutritional Management in Confinement:
     If cattle are confined, all nutrients required for growth and production must be supplied. Normally growing cattle over 700 pounds will receive rations relatively high in concentrates to gain faster. The concentrate should be processed for maximum benefit to the animal. If possible it is best to mix all feedstuffs together and fed in a fence line bunk, however, forages can be fed separate from the concentrate. Supplements containing vitamins and minerals and perhaps additional protein dependent on the amount of protein in the forage, should also be included at manufacturers ecommendations. The supplement can be obtained from any feed supply store. Check nutrient levels through feed analysis. You may check with the local County Agent for help to determine the appropriate supplement.

     An acclimation period is necessary to adapt the animal to the concentrate. Feed the ration to appetite or as much as they will consume maintaining the forage to concentrate ratio. Once growing cattle reach 800 pounds, more concentrate can be fed. An 800 pound steer will gain approximately 3.0 pounds per day and will consume approximately 20 pounds of dry matter. It is essential to increase the amount of grain in the ration slowly to avoid digestive upset. Increase the concentrate by one half pound per day until the ration is approximately 65 % concentrate, 30 % roughage and 5 % supplement, fed 2 to 3 times per day.

Health Management:
     Cattle are susceptible to a variety of diseases. Good planning and management, along with use of common vaccines and pharmaceuticals will usually enable your cattle to avoid most disease problems. Find a local veterinarian who includes cattle in their practice and consult with that practitioner about a herd health program, based on your type of enterprise, prior to your obtaining any cattle. If in doubt consult with your Extension Veterinarian who has a list of certified veterinarians by area and specialty.

     Bloat may cause sudden death of an affected animal. Avoid grazing cattle on lush alfalfa. Other plants may also cause problems for cattle so it would be wise to have your County Agent or veterinarian visit your pasture and corral area and determine any potential plant problems that may be present. It is important that any supplemental feeds used be free of mold and spoilage. Avoid sudden feed changes; make gradual changes over 10 to 14 days, especially when adding grain to the ration. Bloat may be considered a disease which can affect animals in confinement fed mixtures of alfalfa and concentrate. Symptoms are similar as well as treatment which should be discussed with a veterinarian.

     Scours or diarrhea is common in newborn calves and animals of a young age. Cows must receive adequate protein and energy during pregnancy, especially the last 60 days to provide immunity to disease for the newborn. The newborn calf must also receive colostrums, the cow's first milk, within 1 to 6 hours of birth in order to develop immunity or antibodies against disease. A clean environment is also essential for the cow just prior to and after calving. The basic treatment for scours is fluid and electrolytes to maintain hydration of the calf.

Respiratory Disease:
     Stress, weather changes and infectious agents may all be involved and are most common in calves soon after weaning. Minimize stress at this time and provide protection from the elements, such as a shed and windbreak. Develop a vaccination program with your veterinarian including IBR (infectious bovine rhinotracheitis), PI3 (parainfluenza type 3), BRSV (bovine respiratory syncytial virus) and BVD (bovine virus diarrhea). A minimal program for respiratory disease would include an intra nasal vaccination with IBR and PI3 at 2 to 3 months of age and a vaccination at weaning containing a modified live virus (MLV) for IBR, PI3, BRSV, and BVD.

Clostridial Diseases:
     A group of related diseases may cause sudden death, especially in young, growing cattle. These diseases are Blackleg, Enterotoxaemia, etc. Good vaccines are available and cattle should be vaccinated early in life with boosters at appropriate times. Your veterinarian can help you select the proper vaccine and outline a time schedule. This would include a 7-way Clostridial vaccine at 2 to 3 months of age and a second booster at weaning.

Parasite Control:
     When cattle are grazed on the same pastures every year, internal parasites may become a problem. In this situation a worming treatment is needed to minimize parasite load and allow proper gains. Specific products to use and the time are critical considerations and depend on your grazing program. Your local veterinarian is best prepared to provide advice. External parasites of concern include lice, (common in winter) and horn flies (common in summer). Both need to be controlled, and several pesticides and methods of application are available.

     Injections of any type may cause lesions if injected into the muscles. All injections should be given subcutaneously (under the skin) when possible. Muscles in the neck can be used if it is necessary that intramuscular injections be given. DO NOT make injections into the hind quarters (rear legs or hip). Be sure to keep records of all treatments and always follow the withdrawal times as directed. The directions on the product will indicate how long the animal must be withheld from slaughter after use of the specific product. Always follow all directions on the label.



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