My first steer

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by dare2b, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. dare2b

    dare2b crone

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    This spring I will be getting a steer, and this will be an entirely new experience for me. I want to raise it for grass-fed beef, to be slaughtered in the fall. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions?
     
  2. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Hi,
    Advice or suggestions on what? And no, I'm not being smart but do you want adivice on how to farm him in terms of drenching, grazing etc?

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     

  3. genebo

    genebo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Check when deer season is in your state. Get an appointment early to have your steer sjaughtered before deer season. A lot of places won't take cattle during deer season.

    Genebo
    Paradise Farm
     
  4. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Well...

    get ready for him BEFORE you buy him! Have your fencing up and in order, a water tank and any feed you plan to give him. Make sure you have enough pasture to support him.

    Buy from a farmer if you can. If you go to the sale barn, have someone experienced help you buy. Nothing worse than getting a sick animal home. There are many special feeder calf sales where the calves have all been vaccinated, wormed and cut. Those are a good place to buy. If you don't buy at a special sale, have the sale barn vet give all the shots and cut them. It's generally cheaper to do it there.

    Bring him home, let him eat.

    Jena
     
  5. dare2b

    dare2b crone

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    RONNEY, drenching? What is drenching? The advice I seek pretty much amounts to "everything you know and would like to tell me, especially what you've learned from your own experience."

    genebo, thanks. I never would've thought of that in a million years.

    gena, thanks for your reply.

    Fencing project is underway and a watering trough with float valve to keep it full is in the works too.

    I will be buying from my neighbor so will ask him to take care of the vaccinations, worming and cutting.

    As far as enough pasture, how much would you estimate is needed for one steer? I plan to use the one acre on the north side of my house. The grass there grows very fast. Last year at the height of growing season I had to mow it twice a week. But I will supplement with feed if necessary, which raises another question: what type of feed? I would like to stay away from anything with meat protein, hormones, and/or chemicals. Any recommendations?
     
  6. dare2b

    dare2b crone

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    Jena Wupps, sorry I misspelled your name. I tried to edit but the darn thing denied me access to the edit page. :no:
     
  7. beeman97

    beeman97 Well-Known Member

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    Dare,
    In your 1st post you stated you wanted a grass fed animal, If you have enough good pasture then ou won't need to supliment with feed, but it will also take far longer to get him to killing size, take that into account when you purchase, a totally grass fed steer will take 2 yrs total to grow out, that is from weaning age. If you decide your going to feed grain, then find a local milling place, try to aviod places that sell in commercial capacities, like southern states or tractor supply.
    they use the worst feed in comparison to a local milling operation. There are not suspose to be any meat byproducts in feed anymore at all, & hormones & such are also not used in the scheme of things, of course, this is taking into account that you trust what the big commercial companies & the government are up too.
    If you can give him more then an acre to graze that would be better, but you will also need to section it off so he eats where you want him , then you can move him into a new area every couple of weeks to fresh grass, this will help keep the worms to a minimium, & it will also be better for your pasture, giving it time to recover from beeing grazed.
    Good Luck
    Rick
     
  8. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    If you want him to be grass fed, you can just feed him hay.
    If you need feed, ask your neighbor what he uses, or maybe he can sell you some if he grinds his own. Feeds are not supposed to have any animal proteins in them. Hormones are not in feed either. They give cattle hormones with an implant under their skin. You do need to watch for stuff like rumesin (like an antibiotic) in commercial feeds.

    I grind my own, so I don't know what to recommend.

    Jena
     
  9. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    Get him a salt block too, we just give ours a little Corn-Oats-Barley in mollasses as a bit of a treat from time to time, easily available anywhere,but hay is all he will really need.
    If you start him on grain, take it easy to start with, start small, too much grain when he isn't conditioned to it will cause him to bloat, which can kill him quickly.
    Ronney doesn't have a clue, a feeder steer in the neighborhood of 300-500 pounds is unlikely to need an Electolyte Drench which is something you will need if he was just a little calf and the possiblity of scours existed.
    And as said on earlier posts, stay away from auctions if you can.
    Good luck, have fun, get him a buddy, he'll get lonely by himself.
    You can always sell the extra beef.
     
  10. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Excuse me Herefordman :( !! Ronnie does have a clue thank you. Drenching is another term for worming so please don't jump in and call me clueless.

    Dare,
    You have already been given some good advice for grass rearing a beast and if you follow it and perhaps ask the advice of your neighbour if your not sure, you shouldn't have any problems.

    A little tip, I dribble molasses mixed with hot water through the hay before feeding it to them. They love it.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  11. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    Sorry Ronnie, maybe that term is common in NZ, but not around here.
    I stand internationally corrected and beg for humble mercy ;)
     
  12. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just out of curiosity, why don't you like rumensin (a coccidosis preventative), Jena?
    Thanks!
     
  13. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Herefordman,
    Your international apology is equally as humbly accepted :)

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  14. dare2b

    dare2b crone

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    Well thank you all very much! I'll let you know how it goes and of course, I may have more questions . . .

    AND if you think of anything else, I'll be checking back here for further posts.

    Thanks again everybody!
     
  15. allen8106

    allen8106 Well-Known Member

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    Dare2b,

    Here is a little advise from a little guy who started where you are 7 years ago. I moved to the country for little piece of my heaven and decided to try and raise my own beef too. We got off to a bit of a rough start but have been doing it every since and refuse to purchase store bought beef anymore. Most of the advice you have received so far is pretty good but I felt compelled to put in my two cents worth.

    If you want the best out of your home grown steer at the minimum of cost supplement your grass with grain and alfalfa hay. I have found that "grass fed" beef are not all they are cracked up to be. I personally suggest taking him off of the grass. Grain and alfalfa have more protein, which is what he needs to grow tender muscle which is your ultimate goal. Your local Co-op probably has a feed mill and can provide you with a reasonable grain mix, buy it by the 1/2 ton or more, it's cheaper that way. Just make sure they understand the steer will be raised for butcher. If you don't have a grain bin to store it in, four 55 gallon drums will hold 1/2 ton of grain. A good feed mill truck driver can dump it right into the drums when delivered without spilling more than a few pounds which you can scoop up when he's finished. The biggest issue with this is then you must wrestle them into the barn. If you can buy the hay by the large round bale and start him on it gradually, give him the hay free choice once he is used to it. Gradually get him started on the grain and feed him as much of it as he will eat morning and evening without having any left over at the next feeding. Once he is eating 10-15 pounds of grain at each feeding level off and keep feeding that amount twice a day until 60 days prior to butcher then bump him to 20-25 pounds a feeding. I have found that you get better beef by confining your calf to a corral of moderate size, this keeps him from getting too much exercise. Too much exercise toughens the meat. I keep 4-6 calves in a 30'x40' corral. Get another calf to put in with him. Beef will gain weight better with a little competition because they will each try to eat more than the other. This is not harmful just the natural way of things. Above all make sure he (they) have all the water they can consume. Most people will tell you to butcher at 900-1200 pounds. I don't have a scale big enough to weigh beef on so just feed him out untill he's 14-16 months old.

    Probably more than one person reading this will scoff at this plan but I assure you it will work, I have raised 16 head, 3-5 at a time, with success for myself and family members. My costs average about $2.00 a pound in the freezer. You won't buy a T-bone in the store for that. My only failure was drowning one of my first calves because when I force fed him electrolytes I didn't do it properly.

    Good Luck
     
  16. dare2b

    dare2b crone

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    allen8106 , please tell me more about feeding electrolytes . . . under what circumstances would I need to do this, how is it done, where are electrolytes obtained, etc.

    thanks, dare2b
     
  17. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    The fact that Rumensin prevents coccidosis is almost incidental and that's not the main purpose of it. The primary reason it is fed to cattle is to improve gains and feed efficiency.

    I just don't see the point of feeding cattle drugs to get a bit more gain. Same reason I don't use hormone implants.

    Jena
     
  18. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I didn't know much about it. I know that the Primer 1 we use for heifers under 6 months has a coccidial preventative in it (not sure which) and the heifer mix we use has Bov Supp (not sure what it is either) in it as well. We use those feeds to make up for some of the poorer quality hay and because the calves thrive on it. After they hit a year old though they go out on grass and hay until they join the milking herd at which time they get their grain for milking. We are also feeding it to our goats because they thrive on it as well. The goats that were raised on the heifer feed are in terrific shape and we stopped for a couple of years and they aren't as good.
    I like learning about other people's reasons so thank you for sharing.

    There are some that tout Rumensin as a necessity for healthy goats but I hadn't done much research on it.
     
  19. ravenstark

    ravenstark Member

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    First, I'll say up front, I'm no expert. This is what I've learned so far over the course of 18 month raising two steers.

    1. Buy a fairly good quality animal. A skinny little runt of a steer will eat like there is no tomorrow and stay a skinny little runt of a steer. Look for straight legs, and sturdy look.

    1.b. Don't buy the animal without comparing it to other animals the same age on the same ranch.

    1.c. Don't accept the rancher's "free offer" of a steer with a bad leg. It will keep bothering him as he gains weight.

    2. When brushing, petting, or otherwise being affectionate to your steer, if he seems to be enjoying it too much, he probably is. Unless you like having your face planted into the ground, stop what you're doing or tie him up securely.

    3. Don't "spilt" an animal with other people unless you have thoughly discussed how you will raise the animal. We bought into two steers with a guy who is very much in favor of fattening them up with grain, while the two of us would prefer grass fed meat with maybe a little supplimentation. He also wanted them professionally butchered when we want to do it ourselves. Just because this person is a friend, don't mean you'll automatically agree about stuff like this.

    4. Be somewhat assertive with the animal. If your aren't, he will walk all over you.

    5. Cattle feel their oats just like horses do. We pastured ours right around our house and have to contend with them galloping and bucking right up to us. There are times to get the heck out of the way.

    6. Cattle will eat garbage. Unknown to us when we bought this place, the former owners used the property as a landfill for the on-site greenhouse business. The cows will happily munch on black flex pipe, fertilizer bags, and other assorted plastic items you'd rather they not. Since this stuff never seems to come out in the dung, I have to assume ours are full of plastic which has to really kill feed efficiency.

    7. They are creatures of habit. Any change to their habit will upset them, possibly in ways where you don't want to be around them for fear of bodily injury. For instance, now that we have them penned up so that they can't eat plastic, moving a steer from one pen to another will make the steer paw the ground, buck, run, snort, kick, and charge.

    8. Don't try to pick their hooves while they stand, as you would a horse. At least when they are young, they will fall on you. (I haven't tried this on adult cattle.) Instead I wait until they are ruminating (laying down and chewing their cud) to inspect their hooves.

    9. Ducks are much better than chickens at eating cowfiles off cows. If you have the time and inclination, it is possible to carry a chicken around the cow to pick off the flies, but this often isn't practical.

    10. I've heard that they have to learn a thing for both sides of their body. For instance, our one steer was very afraid of humans. While he was laying down, I'd squat and waddle over to him with a comb and brush him. It took a week before he was okay with this. One day, I approached him from his other side and he totally freaked out. I later read that they have to learn the same fact (I'm not going to hurt him) for each brain hemisphere seperately.

    11. It is probably a good idea to halter train them while they are small enough for you to win in a fight with them. Trying to halter train a 800 pound steer may get you airborne.

    12. When they graze up to a fence, they have a tendency to try to go under the fence if the food is good on the other side. Poorly stretched woven wire allowed them to eat my garden last year even though it required breaking strands of that fence and pulling up a t-post. They've never left the property thanks to our high tensile electric fence.

    13. They aren't nearly as dumb as they look when it comes to doing exactly what you don't want them to do. Mine are adept at putting their head exactly where the feed is falling so that most of the feed falls outside of the bowl. They will then urinate and deficate on that feed rather than eat it.

    14. They are stupid when it comes to doing what you want them to do. For instance, if you put a bowl of feed in another pasture, instead of going through the gate, they will go to the point along the fenceline closest to the feed. They will then become annoyed and possibly mad at you.

    15. Even three hurricanes won't blow them away.
     
  20. allen8106

    allen8106 Well-Known Member

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    Electrolytes are fed to a calf that has the scours (diarhea). If they are up to drinking thier bottle it's do big deal, you just put it in a bottle or bucket. Many times they don't feel like drinking or eating and you can't just let them not drink or they will dehydrate and they WILL die on you so you force feed it. You can buy a special force feeding bottle fairly cheap or do what I do, use a long neck beer bottle or long neck pop bottle. You hold thier head up so thier nose is the highest point on thier body and stuff the bottle 3/4 of the way into thier mouth. The BIG trick here is to make sure you get the bottle as far in as it will go without losing it and DON'T pull it out until the bottle is EMPTY. If you pull the bottle out before it is empty the liquid will go into thier lungs. One of my first calves lay down and died right in front of me because I pulled the bottle out before it was empty. I knew better but for some unknown reason I got the idea that I didn't want to give the calf the entire bottle of liquid so I pulled it out.

    Electrolytes are usually a powder you mix with water that has essential minerials and stuff it kind of like gatorade for humans. Most people feed it along with thier anibiotics for the scours. The scours are caused by a intestinal bacteira. When claves have the scours the lose citical minerals. I fed electolytes and anitbiotics to my first wo calves with little results. When an old family friend told me to use raw eggs, I haven't used anything other than raw eggs since. The eggs are acidic and help kill the bacteria plus they act like a binding agent just like in a cake. Three days of two raw eggs every feeding mixed with thier milk cleans them right up. Go figure!!