We want to help you understand how to raise healthy beef cattle.
And as a quick aside --- we are here to help you purchase a new tractor when the time is right.
Let’s get started.
Beef cattle are amazing.
They convert unusable plants into high-quality beef.
So --- the first question you need to ask is “What is my goal for raising beef cattle?”
You can raise a few head of cattle to stock your own freezer or you can start your own beef cattle business and sell the meat.
No matter what your end goal is --- your beef cattle depend on you to look out for their well-being.
You must know how to take care of them. They require feeding and proper care.
Start off by selecting healthy animals and make the transition to their new home as smooth as possible.
Here are a few tips and strategies:
Purchase healthy cattle. Beef cattle should be alert --- not wild. Their eyes should be bright, clear, and free of discharge. Breathing should be smooth and regular. They should not be coughing. The body should be full and rounded --- not shrunken or hollowed out. They should be able to move with a free and easy stride.
NOTE: Avoid buying cattle with mucus coming from its nose. Also, avoid cattle that have swollen legs or joints. These symptoms may indicate illness or an infection. These can be passed to other cattle, and in some cases humans.
Prepare your facilities before bringing them home. Cattle need a grazing area with a good perimeter fence (either six-strand high-tensile or, at minimum, a 4-foot high woven wire), a strong pen or corral, a shelter, and clean loafing and eating areas.
Prepare your trailer for hauling cattle. Clean the inside of the trailer. This will reduce the chance of any disease transmission. Make sure it has a skid-resistant floor to help keep the cattle from slipping. Adjust the ventilation on the sides of the trailer so it is appropriate for the weather conditions.
Keep your new cattle separate from the rest of your animals. You do not want them to have any fence line contact. This quarantining procedure helps reduce the spread of disease through air, direct contact, feed, water, equipment, or traffic. Beef cattle may need to be isolated from 21 to 120 days. Consult your veterinarian.
Load and unload your cattle in a quiet and patient manner. Being transported is stressful for cattle. You can minimize their distress by being calm. Take your time. Loud noises tend to scare the cattle which makes it harder to load them on the trailer the next time.
Gather your new cattle in a small, secure holding lot and inspect them for injuries. Limit the size of the pen for your new cattle. This reduces any nervous pacing and decreases the opportunity for them to escape. Make sure the pen is stocked with good-quality grass hay and plenty of clean water. After you unload all the cattle, check for any injuries that may have occurred during transport.
To keep your beef cattle healthy and content, you must take care of their diets.
Here are some tips and strategies for a healthy diet:
Add vitamins and minerals to your beef cattle’s diet. You can mix these nutrients with the other feed. Another option is to serve it up in a free-choice feeder.
Always make sure your beef cattle have access to a clean, fresh, and plentiful supply of water. Beef cattle drink a lot of water. During a hot summer day, a mother cow with a nursing calf can consume nearly 18 gallons of water.
Provide wholesome feedstuffs. Don’t feed your beef cattle any grain or hay that is musty, moldy, or soiled by animal feces.
Provide your beef cattle with forage. You can meet your cattle’s forage requirements by letting them graze in the pasture or feed them dried, harvested hay.
Use concentrates to supplement the forages. Supplements are useful during times of drought. This helps market cattle put on fat or to meet the nutritional needs of a lactating and ovulating young cow. Concentrates like the grains of corn, oats, wheat, and barley are good sources of energy for your cattle. Soybean and cottonseed meal supply both energy and protein.
When adding or removing feeds from your cattle’s diet --- gradually make the change over a week or two. An abrupt switch in feedstuffs can harm the helpful bacteria in the digestive tract. This could cause an unsafe change in a bovine’s digestive juice ph.
Be prepared for big appetites. Beef cattle can consume up to 3% of their body weight a day in dry feed.
Preventing disease and injury is extremely important.
Here are some tips and strategies for keeping your cattle healthy:
Watch for changes in the vital signs. For mature cattle, the normal temperature range is 100.4 – 103.1 degrees Fahrenheit. Pulse should be around 40 – 80 beats per minute. The respiration resting rate should be 10 – 30 breaths per minute.
Create a vaccination schedule and follow it. Implement an immunization schedule for respiratory and clostridial diseases. If you have breeding animals, you will also want to have a reproductive vaccination program. Many fairly-priced and highly-effective vaccines are on the market. Read and follow all the label’s directions when giving any shots.
Provide a stress-free environment. Stress makes beef cattle susceptible to disease. Interact with your cattle in a calm and low-stress fashion.
Monitor the feed consumption. A decreased appetite is an early sign of sickness. Healthy cattle come up to the feed trough at every meal. Healthy beef cattle on the pasture have full and rounded stomachs.
Develop a good working relationship with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can be a great adviser as you strive to keep your herd of beef cattle in tip-top shape and great health.
There is much more to learn --- but this was a good start to better understanding how to raise healthy and happy beef cattle. Hopefully, this brief article has helped you a bit.
If you need any further help or have any questions about rural living, tractors, or anything else, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944. Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.
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