Raising Herefords

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by crowinghen, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. crowinghen

    crowinghen Well-Known Member

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    Hi!
    My hisband and I just purchased two herefords this past week-end at the local auction. One is a heifer, weighs 450 lbs, the other was a bull ( now a steer) weighing 650 lbs. We payed .77 and .71 /lb, respectively.
    They seem to be pretty mellow, even after the castrating, so we're pleased with that. We plan on butchering the steer next fall, and if we enjoy having cows, breeding the female for future beef.
    I have a couple of questions though, being we are newbies.


    1) what kind of hay do cows need for the winter? We have local grass hay, first cutting, that we feed the goats. Should we purchase a better grade hay for the cows, supplement with grain, or ??? We have a better quality hay available, or feeder hay, 3-4 dollars a bale. We payed 2.25/bale for the hay we have.

    2)When can the heifer be bred? We're thinking of breeding her to an angus for the first calf, for an easier calving. Whatdya think?

    3) How long do you grain the steer before butchering, and would it make any difference to feed a better quality hay in the winter, or just grain him well at the end? We want to have a good quality meat, but want to keep our costs down too.

    I'll have more questions, I'm sure, but will await the input I get here first.
    Thanks so much!
    Susie

    BTW, we live in Western washington, have 4 acres of real good grass pasture.
    TIA!
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Grass hay is fine for cows, but these growing babies will need some extra protein and grain. I use corn and soybean meal at about 14% protein. Add the grain slowly until they are getting about 1/2 bucket a day each.

    Breed your heifer at about 15 months old. An angus bull might be good, might not, depends on the bull. You cannot pick a calving ease bull simply by breed. You need to pick by EPD's. I have some angus bulls that throw monster calves and a simmi bull that throws tiny babies. It just depends on the genetics.

    Your steer needs enough protein and energy to grow well. In the spring/summer he'll get that from grass, but for the winter, you'll need to supplement his hay. Work him up to full feed (all the grain he wants, plus limited hay) about 90 days before slaughter to put a finish on him.

    YMMV...I have no idea if grass keeps actively growing in WA in the winter...

    Jena
     

  3. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    Nope, the grass stops growing right about now, we are o full feed and bales now as the pasture is pretty done for the year.
    We only grain ours for the last 60 days and they turn out fine, they do get a small amount through the winter anyways just to keep em' happy and they'll follow that bucket anywhere.
    Your calf from an AngusXHerford will be whats known as a Black Baldie, and are typically very good calves.
    Good luck.
     
  4. crowinghen

    crowinghen Well-Known Member

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    Herefordman-
    Do you think I should supplement with grain, or do you think local hay will be ok for them? I'd like to feed them grain just as a treat- so far they don't know what it is... but the steer did take an apple out of my hand today :) not too bad for the 3rd day here! I won't get too attached though, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy him!
    They are cute, and I'm pleased to hear that i could get a Black baldie, because I have always really liked those! :cool:

    Susie
     
  5. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    Local hay around here is very good and will work just fine, just be sure it is this years, and preferably first cut, as its easy to buy two year old hay here, or even third and fourth cuttings, because its appearance may not look too much different, but it may be rotting inside, not that its all bad, but it can be, and for only two cows why skimp.
    If you have the capability to handle round bales, they just love the wrapped bales, they goof that down like candy and will grow like bad weeds !!!
    They don't need a whole lot of grain, its used more as a treat with us and a good method of moving them around when needed, although you will want to increase it when butcher time comes.
    You won't want to give them too much to start with anyways until their rumen is conditioned to it, otherwise they get bloat and that can cause death, besides it makes them a bit nutso sometimes !!!
    An adult Hereford will need about half a 60 lb square bale per day, also don't forget to put out a salt block for them, and if they haven't been wormed I would suggest an easy choice is a "Pour-On" variety.
    Breed the heifer when she gets to 15 months and try not to let here go too far past that, the longer they're unbred they get bigger and can have problems with first calves, as first calves can sometimes abort or have problems anyways don't be discouraged if this happens, just breed her again and she will probably be fine.
    Keep a close eye on these two newbies for a while for any problems as cattle bought at auctions can be rife with problems, as a lot of animals at auctions are just other peoples culls.
    (Watchout while the Angus bull is around, they can be testy, we had a neighbors Black Angus bull want to get to our cows so bad he rammed the stock trailer parked across the gate so hard he moved it over to get out.)
    Good luck, Herefords are the best.
     
  6. crowinghen

    crowinghen Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the great advice!!
    We just noticed the seller's name on the receipt for the heifer and she's from the farm where we bought our hay from, right up the road. We had talked to him about purchasing a weanling but he hadn't gone through his herd yet. So he's going to look up her records for us. He also said if we want to bring her up this summer to get bred, that'd be an option. He said he just had more than he wanted to over-winter.

    I've been watching them pretty closely, esp since the recent castration, but so far everything looks good.
    Thanks again!

    Susie
     
  7. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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    Congrats on picking Herefords. My family has raised Polled Herefords since the early 1900's. Now I am the foreman and primary ranch hand, so keep the herd small! I really have no advice as my situation is different than yours. (More land, less head per acre, no grain, mild climate, round bales of coastal a few months in the winter). You have picked an extremely docile breed. Enjoy.
     
  8. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    Herefords are the best............but then again.......I'm kinda partial :)
     
  9. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    1: We feed our herefords hay with 10% protein and they do very well on it, we are also feeding haylage but we fed stuff with that kind of protein in the past and they did well, maintained their body mass. I wouldn't bother buying 3-4 dollar a bale hay, we sell stuff for that much and its 13-20%. This year it was lower, but they don't need that much. However keep this in mind, there are different practices. Some people feed strictly grass and see good results, if you figure grain costs etc, a good quality hay will make up for the grain. I saw first hand what high protein alfalfa can do to a herefords milk production, and it was very good. I know those are young, but the same applies. High protein will save you on grain, and yes grain has different viatamins. But consider the possibility of blood meal in some grains, etc. So for the young heifer and steer to put on good mass, get stuff with 13% and higher protein, and you will like the result, I know I did.

    2:I suggest to breed her for her first calf, a jersey. Some might disagree but there are many dairy people in this area that use Jersey for the first calf heifer. It is smaller, it won't strain the animal. Best of all if it is a heifer, it can make for some very unique calves. We have a steer from one of our jersey, hereford cross that is red, beautifull red. His face is solid white. Two of her calves I sometimes mistake, they look like twins, their face has the same markings. It is a white with red on their face. Here is an example.

    [​IMG]

    Yes it was a Christmas card last year, but anyways. That is a cross, and the calves that come from her are bred further and are almost pure hereford. So there is an option! I suggest jersey, but its up to you, we have had some problems with first calf heifers that had big calves, and sometimes it isn't pleasant.

    3: You can have good quality meat with grass fed. We sold a steer last year, he wa 100% grass fed. One problem, unless your on a low fat diet, you might not like what he had. He had such little fat they said they had a tough time finding any fat. He was near 0%, and im not joking. This was at the end of the summer. The other one we sent off had a lot of fat, he was sent in December of last year. But either way, you can keep your costs down if you go with high protein hay, they will fatten up. There is also the option of getting silage from a farm...


    Jeff
     
  10. crowinghen

    crowinghen Well-Known Member

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    When I was a kid we had a Jersey cow that we bred to a Hereford for some very nice steers. She had a heifer that looked alot like yours! They seemed to take on alot of the beef characteristics. I would imagine they'd have good milk supply too.
    Something to think about! Wedefinitely look for a bull that has low birthweight offspring.
    We'll have to decide if we're going to go with AI or a bull-- Any thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Susie
    Ps the steer has healed up nicefly from his castration - Whew! Both seem to be putting on weight, so I guess they're getting enough to eat!
     
  11. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    The cow in the postcard has nice markings, the dark red around the eyes can be a good attribute for fly control in the summer, and many people are trying to breed this in deliberately.
    On the bull question vs AI ?
    I would just truck your heifer to someone who has a bull, save yourself the vet bill, and the odds are with you she'll be bred.
    AI for only one cow probably isn't worth the effort, and can be unreliable, depending on who does it, timing, etc.
    Leave her with a good bull for a couple of months and let nature take its course.
    Good luck.
     
  12. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    A bull increases your chances 10fold over AI IMO. We had a Jersey that wouldn't take to AI that easy, she got with a hereford and she took. Now we keep a bull on the farm and don't worry about it, they all get bred.


    Oh and there is one other option, it costs more than either AI or a bull, but you can get pure bred animals out of this. Embryo transplant, you could get a pure Jersey out of that. It isn't guarenteed it will be a heifer, but you have equal chances if its either or with AI or a bull. One problem, if it did turn out to be a bull, it would be a pricey bull. Locally a guy does it here for 100.00 per transplant. All your cow does is carry the embryo and feed it while its growing, but this is a good way IMO to get a small calf for her first. The one in the picture had her first calf two springs ago and he was around 80lbs or so, BUT she was 3 years old at that time. So it also depends on body size.


    Jeff
     
  13. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    One of the animal science professors in college used to talk about "the magnificent rumen." He meant beef cattle but all ruminants have the same advantage. tHey can make do on junk that other animals can't use at all. There was even a study on feeding beef cattle cardboard boxes (thinking of recycling, I guess). Properly supplemented they did gain on that. (Have no idea how palatable it was, though!)

    I'm not saying go feed your calves cardboard boxes :haha: ... just when you are looking for hay, they can use stuff that horses, dairy cows or dairy goats would not, such as coarse grasses, grass hay and corn stalks.

    We actually feed our beef cows the poorest hay we have because no one will buy it and the cows can use it. In the fall they also graze harvested corn fields in addition to their hay and pasture.

    Your goals for your two Herefords would be different -- you want to keep your heifer trim so she will breed easier but you want your steer to gain weight. You might have to feed them separately later on. We used AI and a clean-up bull both on the beef heifers this year and the fattest heifer took the longest to settle. Just on grass.

    Good luck. Can't beat those traditional beef breeds :D:
    Ann
     
  14. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I sometimes buy bluegrass straw to feed my cows, they do very well on it. I also get grass straw from one of the research farms just for hauling it away. I actually don't buy any of my feed the last couple of years. I have a tractor, baler, rake and mower and have for the last couple of years baled some pasture grass for free. I also feed peas and canola meal that I am given. It is enough to feed my two cows, their calves and a couple of yearlings. Cattle can get by on a lot lower quality feed than most people think. Just make sure that you proving mineral loose or in the block form, and you most likely will need selinium in it.

    Bob
     
  15. crowinghen

    crowinghen Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the advice! We've given them a salt/mineral block with selenium in it- they love that! Perhaps they hadn't been supplemented with it previously...?
    they are doing well, obviously gaining weight. They steer is the Boss so I'm happy to see him eat well, but the heifer is getting her share too- I think we'll have to worry more about her getting fat... how can I tell the diffference between "fat" and "just right"? So far she has gained in height , and the steer has gained in bulk. She is younger so I would think that is the way it should be. He's 200 lbs heavier than her ( or at least he was when we got them) , but she's a little taller. She still has a little of the calf look, whereas he is much more mature looking.

    We REALLY like having them and are not at all bothered by having to feed them, like we thought we might- it really just takes minutes a day. I enjoy looking at them and trying to get them friendlier each day-- so far they like apples the best-- don't think I'll try the cardboard boxes :)

    This is a great board!

    Susie
     
  16. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    As far as how fat is too fat ... there's a system called "body condition scoring" and I am having a brain cramp ... I think cattle are on a scale of 1 to 5 (from skeletal to obese) and horses for some reason are on a scale of 1 to 10.

    We went to a cattle meeting awhile back and the nutritionist who spoke was talking about conditioning show cattle and how the fat goes on sort of um, let me think ... from the top front (shoulders) along the back, then down to the belly -- brisket, flanks and so on, clear back to the scrotum. He said, "Boys, if you've got a steer that still looks like a bull, that is one fat animal!" and for some reason that struck me funny. I guess it was the way he said it. (funny thing was ... beef cattle meetings seem to be all men. Dairy cattle meetings in this area, the whole family goes. Don't know why that is ...)

    Good luck ... I would try to find information on body condition scoring on the Web

    Ann
     
  17. trickham

    trickham Well-Known Member

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    If you can't see her hip bones at all, she is probably a little too fat.
     
  18. trickham

    trickham Well-Known Member

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  19. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    He said, "Boys, if you've got a steer that still looks like a bull, that is one fat animal!"


    Or a steer that wasn't cut properly.
    Heifers typically get rounder in the belly while steers tend to bulk up in general.
    If your steer starts looking a lot like a bull, he may be a stag, (one nut still there somewhere)
    If he gets the bull neck and shoulders starting to form, then there's a good chance he missed a nut.
    I have a rule, if I don't see them laying on the ground when were done, then were not done.
     
  20. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    We "band" them very young. Works for us. I suppose other producers have reasons for cutting vs. banding.

    When I was taking pictures of show winners for "The FArmer's Exchange, Michiana's Popular Farm newspaper" I did see some steers like you described. But, coming from a dairy background, ALL the beef steers looked over done :): So that you mention it ... hmm ... wonder what was going on with some of them.

    Ann