how to make them graze

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Sarah J, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    I have this calf - born in early January. He's weaned, castrated and seems happy. He does not have a playmate, but there are goats and sheep on the other side of the fence from him to talk to, so to speak.

    He eats his grain with vigor and nibbles at the hay. I've SEEN him eat the grass in his pasture, but not very much...and he really doesn't seem to be going through that much hay, either.

    If I send him outside with no hay, and don't give him *access* to the hay, will he start eating the grass? We're possibly looking at turning him out with the sheep in their pasture, when the fence is done (this afternoon we hope!). Will he learn from them? I'm kind of at a loss...never done the cow thing before...

    -Sarah
     
  2. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Wish I had some answers for you, but heck, I can't get my calf (b. april 12) to eat more than a mouthful of grass, or hay, or even grain! :confused:

    (She is more than happy to drain Momma dry, though! :rolleyes: )

    What are we gonna do with these stubborn babies? SIGH! :haha:
     

  3. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Maybe they're "stealth grazers" - they only go out and grab mouthfuls while we aren't watching! :haha:

    I caught him at it a little while ago...we're building a fence right next to his pasture and he came down near us and grabbed a mouthful and chewed it while he thought we were busy...then promptly laid down in the long grass (it's about waist high on me!) to chew some more! I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm overly paranoid and he's actually fine...I just can't seem to *see* him grazing, right? :rolleyes:

    -Sarah
     
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Tall grass makes poor pasture. Especialy for small animals like sheep and calves. It gets wiry and tough for them to bite and chew. They have to pull it off with their tongue making shorter tender grass a much better feed. You may have better pasture if you mow it and it will grow new tender edible grass. After grass goes to seed it doesn't even make palateble hay. Animals have to be mighty hungry before they will eat it. Calves will eat quite a bit of grass unless it isn't tender or they aren't hungry because they are getting all they want elsewhere.
     
  5. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    I don't have any way of mowing it. I've tried for years to get people out here to mow it but nobody bales hay anymore and has the equipment except my hay people down the road - and they're too busy with their own and say they can't come do it.

    But we got the sheep out there and they are having a field day (pun intended) with it - they don't seem to be having ANY problems with it at all - and the calf is watching them as if to say, "wow - you mean *you* eat this stuff too?!?* :haha:

    -Sarah
     
  6. MARYDVM

    MARYDVM Well-Known Member

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    Just a cautionary note. Sheep can carry a virus that causes a deadly disease in cattle called malignant catarrhal fever. The sheep have no symptoms, the only way you will know if they carry it is if your cattle start dying. In 15 years I have seen 3 outbreaks - one was a dairy farm that let a pet sheep run loose in the barn, another was a housewife who kept a small flock and 3 Jerseys on the same pasture, the last was a farmer trying to raise sheep and dairy heifers in the same barn. Both dairy farmers lost multiple animals.
     
  7. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Can this be tested for?

    -Sarah
     
  8. MARYDVM

    MARYDVM Well-Known Member

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    There are a couple of tests available to diagnose MCF in affected cattle. I don't know if there is any way to screen sheep for carriers.
     
  9. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Mary, thanks for the info ... I have my cows in a pasture that used to be used by sheep. What is the method of transmission?

    P.S.
    Castrated and seems happy, huh? Hmmm .... For some reason this just hit me as being kind of funny. Thanks for the chuckle! :haha:
     
  10. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Castrated and seems happy, huh? Hmmm .... For some reason this just hit me as being kind of funny. Thanks for the chuckle! :haha:[/QUOTE]

    :D My Dh didn't think it was all that funny, but it's true! I guess when you're a calf you don't really care about that stuff, right?

    I took cautionary advice into consideration and we've separated the two pastures with a cross section...so the sheep get one side and the calf gets another... Everyone seems awfully happy. It's jsut that now I have to keep checking the stock tank for water for the sheep instead of letting them use the automatic waterer that is now fenced off away from them. *sigh* The things we do to keep our animals healthy, huh? :no:

    -Sarah
     
  11. The MCF virus is definitely shed in birth fluids and placenta, but can be shed at other times too. The virus does not survive long in the environment, so any pasture with no live sheep on it should be fairly safe for cattle. The disease is quite sporadic, and probably under-diagnosed. It can look very similar to BVD, with cloudy corneas, ulcers in the mouth, and a high fever (105-107) unresponsive to antibiotics. However, there is a characteristic yellow brown crusting on the muzzle, (sometimes with a thick nasal discharge) that is quite distinctive. Once you've seen one case, you'll never be in doubt about any others. It is considered to be incurable.
     
  12. MARYDVM

    MARYDVM Well-Known Member

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    Above post is mine - forgot to login.