Need advice re: feeding of pregnant cow for weight gain

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by astrocow, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. astrocow

    astrocow Well-Known Member

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    Recently we purchased a cow and her calf. At 10 months of age the calf was still nursing from the cow. The cow is pregnant and very thin. They have since been separated and we would like some advice on how best to bring up her body condition between now and when she has her next calf. She is getting 3 cups of cracked corn and 1 cup of beet pulp pellets that have been soaked in water overnight in addition to good hay. Is this sufficient or should she be given something else? She's dry now. Is there a rule of thumb as to how much corn or how much beet pulp she can be given? I was thinking of giving her alfalfa cubes too. I feel bad for her but don't want to overdo it and make things worse for her.
    Leigh
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    You need to bring that grain ration up slowly until she's getting 10-20 pounds a day.

    Jena
     

  3. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    Depends on how pregnant she is, and how skinny she is. Is she skinny for a young Holstein, or skinny for a 12-year old Jersey? If she's more than 3-4 weeks away from calving, she shouldn't need any grain or beet pulp at all, just hay and a little salt and minerals, then from 3 weeks before she's due start working her up slowly on grain.
     
  4. astrocow

    astrocow Well-Known Member

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    Our cow is a 7 year old Dexter, a dual purpose breed and she was never very large framed to begin with. A normal weight for her would be around 640 pounds. I've been looking at a few websites that show body score condition and figure she's between 3 and 4 but that was using the scoring for a dairy animal. The beef score didn't seem to fit her because she's more of a millking type of Dexter. She doesn't eat as much hay as I think she should and I often wonder if it has anything to do with the 4 inches of electrical cord and plug from a de-icer that she ate back in December. Unfortunately copper wire doesn't stick to a magnet but the wire is fine and soft so I hoped it didn't do damage. She never went completely off feed, but her feed consumption dropped when her calf was taken away from her. They can still see each other and I've seen them groom each others' faces but that's it for contact. She is due to have her next calf April 20.
    She really looks forward to her corn and beet pulp each day and licks the bucket clean. She burrows her nose to the bottom of the hay bin for the seeds and ignores the rest of the hay until she runs out of seeds but I guess thats normal. So I thought I'd give her something high calorie and tasty in order for her to put on some pounds so I can sleep better.
    So if the advice is to increase her ration slowly, then my big question is how slowly?
    Thanks Leigh
     
  5. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Hi Leigh,
    has your Dexter been wormed, if not, you should start there maybe. I don't like the sound of the electrical wire, that may be causing some problems I guess. Have you had the vet in to look at her? Beet pulp does put condition on animals very well, but my concern is your hay. You said she doesn't much bother with it? I'm wondering if maybe the hay is of poor quality and maybe you could get some from another supplier just to see if she actually eats it, give her free choice hay. Does she get a mineral and salt? She needs salt and you need to get her a high protein tub. Instead of just a cracked corn see if maybe your feed store carries Calf Manna http://www.mannapro.com/CM_home.htm. As with anything though, I'd get her health checked first maybe, even ask the vet to give you a good feed program. If you change her feed do it gradually.

    Carol K
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    How many ribs, on one side, can you count on the cow?
     
  7. astrocow

    astrocow Well-Known Member

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    I see about 5 ribs on one side. I can "pinch an inch" well actually more than that over her ribs towards her back end. Her skin is tight against her first 2 or 3 ribs.

    I also phoned the vet this morning and he said to worm her, delouse her and begin feeding her 6 pounds of rolled oats and barley mix per day for a week then up it to 12 pounds per day. He said the beet pulp won't do much for her. So today I put a pour - on wormer on her back, and sprinkled her all over with delousing powder rubbing it in well, and she got her first feed of the grain mix. She'll get half in the morning and half in the afternoon. I didn't mention the power cord she ate but he said next time he's up my way he'll stop in to have a look at her, so I'll tell him then.
    I got to thinking our hay may not be as good as I think it is. We did buy a round bale from a differant farmer when we first got her and she ate a lot of it. Now that we are feeding square bales from someone else she doesn't eat as much. I thought perhaps it was compacted so she was getting a lot whereas when we had the round bale we would unravel a long piece off it and put it into her feeder and it seemed that we were always adding to her feeder. It was something someone mentioned in a post above regarding our cow only seeming interested in the seeds at the bottom of the feeder that got me thinking about that. I hope that made sense what I was trying to say there.
    Leigh
     
  8. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    a cow needs approximately 3% of its body weight in food each day. I am able to keep my beef cows showing less than 2 ribs thoughout the year on fescue grass alone. If you will observe the ribs and feed to maintain less than the 2 ribs showing you will know that you are OK. A dairy cow will show more ribs than this when milking heavily but you can bring the cow back into condition when whe is dryed off.
     
  9. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I'm sure that in part her calf was taxing her but I also find it worrisome that she's not interested in her hay and the electrical cord concerns me. Has she been off her feed since that time or is this a new thing? I would also consider the hay issue, if you can't possibly find any good quality hay, pick up pellets and get her on them. It's expensive but the quality is documented. I feel your vet is unwise recomending that amount of grain, especially with barley being such a hot feed and dexters being a relatively small breed. You don't state how advanced her pregnancy is but did your vet happen to mention to you that in the end of a pregnancy a lot of feed goes into calf size and she is late term, you could increase your problems by adding an outsized calf to this? I wonder if it might be wiser to have the vet out for an on site call or take the cow in for a visit rather than trying to make a diagnosis over the phone in this case with the variables. I would also ask how long you have owned this cow and if she is showing any signs of dullness?
     
  10. astrocow

    astrocow Well-Known Member

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    When she ate the power cord back in early December she was still with her previous owner. We were told it didn't affect her appetite and when we brought them home she was fed from a round bale and she ate well. Her demeaner hasn't changed at all and she is alert and curious as usual. I've watched for signs such as arched back, straining, but everything seems normal. This morning I saw that yesterday's square bale was pretty well left alone (except for the seed gathering that went on beneath it by the two of them) so I emptied the feeder and threw that hay onto the floor of their stalls. I selected a square bale from a differant section of our pile and split it between the two of them. The hay looked green with no mold. They began eating right away. So I'm leaning towards the thinking that a good portion of our hay may be unfit for feeding. It looks fine, not much weeds, mostly grasses. Some dried flowers in this last bale. I'm no plant expert so don't ask me what plants are in the bale. The vet is quite a distance from us. I've got the feeling he'll be up our way soon enough as calving season is already here for some. She's due April 20. I've heard too from some people that the grain goes straight to the unborn calf and others say it doesn't. Perhaps since it is now so late in her pregnancy the time being fed grain being so short won't do much for calf size other than give it a little boost? and the mother a boost?
     
  11. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    You have more than a month to go until she calves. Qualiity feed in significant quantities will benefit both animals and make you feel better also. The cow has yet the most demanding tasks yet ahead of her. She has to give birth, feed the calf or produce your milk, heat cycle again, all without giving up more body condition which you do not want to happen.
     
  12. pioneermama

    pioneermama New Member

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    hi, I have 3 Jersey cows, one is due to calve shortly the other is drying up. We feed free hay at all times, give them oats and sometimes mollassas is the wonder all cure for everything. its sweet and nutritous. They can have corn oats and barley mix here in canada its called sweet feed as has molassas in it, very very good for a cow!!!! Allow her to have the best hay and keep her up on grain.
    Our cows are fat and happy, and we appreciate them and love them so much!!!
     
  13. astrocow

    astrocow Well-Known Member

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    I think Jerseys are the prettiest. The calves remind me of deer fawns.
    We sorted out some of the hay today, took out each bale and looked good at it in the sunshine then some got tossed into the "good" pile and some got tossed into the "bad" pile. We are definitely getting next years' hay from a new supplier. I learned today that our hay came from 2 differant fields so that must have a play in the quality.
    Thanks everybody for your help. It got my mind working and learning. Next year everything here will be fat. (but not too fat).
    Leigh
     
  14. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    leigh,
    keep us posted as to how she is doing. Just remember to go easy on the grain, not too much too quick, good hay and fresh water and some salt. That should be about all she needs.
    Just for a reference, my Dexter who just calved end of Jan. gets 2 small coffee cans of 16% dairy mix in the morning, and about 20+/- lbs of hay split into 2 feeds. And I milk this cow and she feeds her calf also. I'd be surprised if her grain ration is more than 1.5 Lbs, and that stops when I have grass. So once you see her putting a little weight on, you should be able to keep her happy on just hay alone. Dexters get like little butterballs real easy!!

    Carol K
     
  15. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Get her tested for Johne's, too.