Cows/Cattle/Angus

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Question
i have 2 angus calves male and female, they are about 6 month old. how many pounds of dry food should i give them per day, what should i give them also, and  at what age they should breed?

Answer
Hello,

There's a lot to discuss here, so bear with me you read through this lengthy reply to your questions. :)

Assuming that the male calf is a bull calf (which will have his testes), and not a steer calf (which have no testes, just little teats or a cod [scrotal sac that has no testes in it]), the bull and heifer calves should generally get 1 to 2% of their body weight in grain per day, as well as grass (if available) and/or good hay.  These calves should be really getting more roughage and forage matter than grain or "dry food" because they are beef calves and more able to gain on pasture and hay than pasture, hay and grain or lots of grain and some pasture/hay. You are apparently raising them as breeding stock, not feeders/stockers, so they should be treated as such and raised so that they are able to grow on mostly or all pasture and hay and very little to no grain. Angus are known for their ability to do well on pasture/hay alone without being pampered with grain. :)

Anyway, getting off my soapbox, if you should give them grain (which is a good supplement, considering that they are growing), make sure it's grain that has around 12% to 14% crude protein and some energy to help them grow.  Rolled oats is best as it contains more protein and fat than cracked corn.  Typically corn has more starch and fibre than protein or energy.  CP (crude protein) for cracked corn is around 3% and CF (crude fat) is about the same. Rolled oats generally is around 11% CP and 3 to 4.5% CF, adequate for a couple of weaned growing calves. Sweet feed is also good, with CP of 12 to 14%.  So choose whatever you like or whatever your veterinarian recommends.

Hay should be a mix of legume and grass.  Legumes can be alfalfa, clover, laspadenza, sanfoin, milkvetch, trefoil, etc.  As for grass, whatever grows in Texas, like coastal, ryegrass, bermudagrass, etc.  The legumes add to the protein, calcium, phosphorus levels that the calves need to grow.  

It's also very important to supply mineral to them.  You can supply trace mineral blocks, but the thing about these blocks is that they are really just made up of "trace mineral": only 5% of the block comprises of microminerals like iron, manganese, cobalt, iodine, zinc, molybdenum, selenium and copper, and the rest of the block (that's 95% of it) is salt--your average table salt, sodium chloride.  Loose mineral, on the other hand, contains more mineral: some mineral mixes contain no salt, others do.  Your area may or may not be in a selenium deficient area (like where I live which is ), so you will have to see your vet to determine whether you should feed mineral that contains selenium or not.  Regardless, mineral needs to be supplied ad libitum or all the time (or, so that they can access it whenever they like).

And of course, fresh clean water must be supplied them all the time. :)

The biggest and most important thing you will need to see your veterinarian or a large-animal veterinarian about is vaccinations.  There are certain diseases in your area that you must have these calves vaccinated for that may be different from where I am, except for blackleg, respiratory diseases like BRD (Bovine Respiratory Disease), IBR (Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis), PI3 (Parainfluenza 3) and reproductive diseases like leptospirosis (more prevailant in heifers than bulls), BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhea), trich (or Trichomoniasis, which is VERY important for your bull calf!!!)  vibrosis and other sexually transmitted diseases.  Yes, cattle do get STDs too, not just humans!

Have a deworming program as well.  But, you should generally try to leave deworming for times when it's needed, like when your calves start showing signs of internal parasites, instead of using it as a preventative measure.  The reason I say this, and it may sound strange to you, is that it minimizes risk of the parasites in your animals to developing resistance to the insecticides like ivermectin to the point where the products are no longer useful in getting rid of the parasites in your livestock.  That will create not only a headache for you but possibly your LAV (large animal vet) as well. Just some food for thought for you.




Now for the breeding part of this answer.  Breeding age for an Angus heifer is, ideally, 15 months of age.  An Angus bull calf reaches sexual maturity at around 10 to 12 months of age.

But, I feel it is my duty and responsibility as an expert on here to warn you that your bull will grow up to be more than just a menace if he's only got one female to breed once a year. A bull should never to be underestimated, always to be respected, and never to be taken lightly. He will cost you not only in feed, but in fence repairs (which may be major if he smells some cows in heat a mile or less away), and even potentially hospital bills if he decides to turn against you without much of a warning.  A sexually frustrated bull is a trainwreck waiting for a place to happen. You think herd bulls are dangerous; bulls that don't have a job to do all year round or intensively during two to three months out of the year are just as dangerous, if not more, as those that are acting to protect their harem.  I also hope that you realize that cattle are not monogamous creatures: they are polygamous:  A yearling bull should be given at least 10 to 20 heifers or cows to breed, not one.  A mature bull can breed between 25 to 50 cows at one time during an entire breeding season.  Your bull will only have one lonely female to breed, that's it; the rest of the time he's eating your pocket book in feed and mineral.  So, either consider butchering him after he's bred your heifer, or, even better, steer him right away, raise him for the freezer and breed the heifer to a proven, calving-ease bull via artificial insemination.  

You don't have, nor can I ever give you, any guarantee that the young bull calf you purchased will be a good bull or a really crappy bull that will give you more heartache and become a real "cash cow," as well as possibly hurt the heifer if she ends up having calving troubles.  Raising bulls is a really tough call too, something that shouldn't be taken on by beginners, even if it's just one bull calf you're raising into a breeding bull.  It takes a lot of work to raise a bull calf into a good bull, but it's even more work if that bull calf turns out to be more inferior than you or a veteran cattleman would like.

If you should consider castrating the bull calf ASAP, this may give you reason to purchase another heifer calf so that you can have two females to give birth to two calves instead of just one.  Make use of and take advantage of AI where you can have the opportunity to purchase semen from GOOD bulls that have been proven to be easy on heifers and have fewer risks of dystocia or birthing difficulty that may be a risk with this bull calf you've purchased.

I don't mean to be rude or impolite about what I said above, really.  I am just trying to show you that one bull and one cow shouldn't be considered ideal for a beginner, especially the responsibility of raising a bull!! Bulls are dangerous and can and will see you as another challenging bull if you let them see you as a part of the cowherd.  They do wreck fences, (I've heard stories that Angus are particularly bad for that), they will get nutty and come after you if/when they choose and without warning, I could go on. A beginner shouldn't raise a bull if they don't know how or don't know how to handle one.  That's the bottom line, regardless if the bull calf already is as docile as you like.

For a beginner, no matter the income level, a cow herd should consist of all females, or one female and one castrated male.  Females are best to be AI'd.  Some argue that they don't have time for AI'ing cows and decide it best to have their own bull to raise them, or that they have one bull with one or two cows and everything works out just fine; some have no choice but to have a bull with their tiny cowherd because a) there are no AI techs around to breed their cows with or they don't want the expenses and risks of doing it themselves; b) there are no neighbors around with a bull to lease to breed their cows/heifers with; c) they can afford the costs of raising/keeping a bull; or d) they wouldn't have it any other way, especially with raising heritage/rare breeds like Dexters or miniatures.  You may be one to have one or some of the reasons above for having a bull calf--then again, you may not. I come from a commercial cattleman's point of view, not a hobby farmer who's main income is from a well-paying off-farm job, which is why I stress the importance of considering steering the bull calf and go AI (or renting a bull to breed your cow with, another ideal option I failed to mention above) instead of dealing with the potential hazard of a rouge, dangerous bull.   Of course, I don't have the last word on your decision for the fate of this bull calf, that's up to you to decide.  

Anyway, I hope I have answered your questions.  Good luck and welcome to the world of raising cattle!

-Karin  

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Karin L

Expertise

Forage-Beef Extension Specialist. Knowledge in almost everything to do with beef and dairy cattle. Strong points include forage production, pasture and rangeland management, grazing management, breeding/calving/weaning, cattle genetics, breeds, feeding and nutrition, starting-up, and most physiological questions. I AM NOT A BOVINE VETERINARIAN; so please any questions that concern serious health of your cattle must be taken to your local large animal veterinarian.

Experience

Part of a farm family that bought, raised, and sold stocker/backgrounder steers; assisted with health management, handling, feeding, pasture management, and forage production. Also worked at local mixed-practice veterinary clinic. Experience with cattle included breeding soundness exams on bulls, castration, fixing prolapses, preg-checking, C-sections, calf pulling, vaccinations, etc. Worked at a local farm and ranch supply store selling medications and feed for livestock. Research assistant for the University of Alberta with range health assessments, and helping with various rangeland research projects. Always learning and gaining more experience as time goes on.

Publications
Alberta Farm Express Agri-News and Call of the Land (Alberta Agriculture)

Education/Credentials
BSc in Agriculture (Animal Science Major) @ University of Alberta, June 2015 graduate, but started studies in 2005. An Sci degree allowed me to specialize and gain significant knowledge in beef & dairy cattle production,animal behaviour and reproduction, ruminant nutrition, forage production/management, rangeland and pasture management & ecology, and plant identification.

Past/Present Clients
Various eef and forage producers in Alberta, CAN

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