Cows/Cattle/cows and cattle

Advertisement


Question
QUESTION: How many calfs may a cow have at one time? what are all good foods and liquids to feed a cow or cattle? about how much will a full grown cow or cattle weight?

ANSWER: Hi Raymond,

1.  A cow typically has one calf per birth, though twins are rare, occuring once every 1000 births.

2.  A very broad and loaded question.  The best (and only) liquid for cattle is water.  It's really not possible to feed them anything else.  As for food (or feed, rather) is concerned, grass is best if available for them to graze.  If it's not, or too poor quality for a cow to maintain or increase her weight on, supplement with grain.  Grain includes corn, oats, wheat, or barley.  If there's no grass, then feed them hay, which can be either grass, legume or grass-legume mix. Hay is best fed free-choice; not so much with grain.  Grain cannot be fed alone otherwise it will cause digestive upset like acidosis and bloat, which has the potential to kill a bovine. You can feed a controlled level of grain along with the diet of grass or hay.  Silage is another feed that can be fed to cattle.  It is chopped fermented feed of grass-grain mix.  

3.  The weight of a full grown bovine really varies because it depends on age, breed, or gender. A baby calf may weigh as little as 40 lbs newborn, and a big bull may weigh as much as 3500 lbs.  A mature cow will range in weight from 900 lbs to over 2000 lbs.  Bulls will range from 1500 lbs to over 3500 lbs.  Smallest breed is Dexter, largest is Chianina.  All other 900-some breeds fall in between as far as weights are concerned, except for minis.

Hope that answers your questions. :)

-Karin

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: which of these cow are best for "Stock Meat"?how many of these cows is fit for one acre of land? can the cows eat "wheatgrass"?

ANSWER: Hi again,

1. Steers or bullocks are best for meat production.  But cows, bulls and heifers can be used for meat as well.  But as far as "which of these cows" that part I cannot answer because I have no further information from you.

2. That question I cannot answer because it entirely depends on location and the type and size of cow or "cow" in question.  You can get anywhere from 0.01 cow/acre to 2 cows/acre.  Rarely would the stocking rate even exceed that number, except if you were doing rotational/managed intensive grazing.

3. Yes.  Any grass that is deemed palatable by any bovine palatable can be eaten.

-Karin

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The location is in upper Michigan and the bullocks and steers will be inside of buildings or barns because the winters can get really cold. the reason I am asking about what to feed them is because I would like my cattle to get fattest in the least amount of time and be the healthist or the best on the market as far as nutrition is concerned. Plus I have noticed that children are growing and developing faster because of the steroids that they put in the cattle to make them bulkier, is that true and is it right?
I want to do the same thing but NOT USE DRUGS!
And I also want to know this because I want my cattle to produce a lot of FECES, but not lose weight or the minerals that they need, what can I feed my cattle to acomplish this?

Answer
Hi Raymond,

I honestly don't think having them inside buildings or barns is the right way to go.  You see, despite the fact that Michigan is sees much colder and snowier winters than where you live in Florida, my family and I have raised or backgrounded steers but they quite often never seen the inside of a building except for the lean-to sheds even during the coldest days of the year.  I live much further than Michigan where it's not uncommon to have cold, snowy winters 6 to 7 months out of the year where temperatures can drop below -30 degrees, not counting the windchill. There is a feedlot that operates just south of my farm and none of the cattle that are finished there for slaughter are inside of a building or barn.  All they have for shelter is some windbreak panels facing north and west.  I am sure much of the backgrounding operations and feedlots in Michigan don't have buildings or barns where cattle are housed, if I'm not mistaken.

As a matter of fact with what you have in mind there is no reason for a building or barn because the amount of fat on them and the thick coat of hair they grow for the winter makes them able to live quite comfortably in what seems to us as very cold.  A rule of thumb to consider is that what is cold to us is either warm or comfortable for a bovine.  The threshold temperature that a bovine starts feeling the cold is around -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).  Galloways and Highlands have a much lower threshold temperature, I believe it is ten or more degrees lower than with most European breeds like Angus or Charolais.

I hate to burst your bubble but you cannot get a bovine to get the fattest in the least amount of time and be the healthiest or the best on the market as far as nutrition is concerned.  Fattest isn't going to be the healthiest simply because they're going to be fat.  People that are looking for healthy beef don't want fatty beef.  Fatty beef = high saturated fatty acids and trans fats which certainly isn't nutritious at all.  Fatty beef is something that won't go well over either the consumers nor the butchers.  When you get cattle that are just fat, that means there's less beef and a lot of waste to trim off. You will get less income and be the worse on the market and for your pocketbook.   

For your question about kids growing and developing faster, it's because of the food itself, not the steroids put into cattle. Steroids are not used in cattle, by the way.  Growth stimulants are, which stimulates the pituitary gland to release growth hormone which encourages cattle to grow as big as they do.  Drugs like antibiotics are actually necessary in these operations because they are used to treat illnesses like bovine respiratory disease, treat acidosis, foot rot, or any other bacterial-type disease that is common in backgrounding/feedlot cattle.  If you don't want to use any drugs on your cattle, I highly recommend you consider grazing your cattle on pasture, not fill them up with grain to get them as fat as possible as fast as possible.

Back to your question, because there is a high abundance of food in North America, it's not uncommon to have mothers give birth more often to twins and to have kids grow up faster and healthier--relatively speaking--than kids that are in poorer, third-world countries.  But it's also due to diet (not to mention modern technology) that a lot of kids are obese today.  Beef contains a lot of fat, more so from grain-fed beef, and that is what contributes a lot to North America's unhealthy population.  And it's the beef from the the kind of cattle you want to raise and sell for people to eat.

So, if you want to raise cattle that are as healthy as possible and don't want to be constantly giving them drugs because of the high-grain diet they are on (which will make them gain weight very quickly in a short amount of time), nor inject them with growth-promotants, consider raising them on pasture. Not only will the beef that comes from grass-finished cattle will be healthier, but the cattle will be much healthier themselves. The time it takes for them to fatten on grass is considerably longer than fattening them on grain, but the time will be worth it, I guarantee it.

Beef cattle are the way to go.  Get yourself good breeds that will do well on grass, or at least cattle from producers that have raised their cattle on nothing but grass.  Angus is a very popular breed, and one which can be raised on grass quite well.  Hereford and Shorthorn are great as well.  Solid-coloured Shorthorn are best for the market than roan ones. Other good breeds are Galloway, Devon cattle, British White, White Park, and others.  

But, if you're insistent on raising your cattle the commerical and conventional way, the best breeds are Simmentals, Angus-Simmental or Angus-Limousin crosses, or any other Continental or British-Continental cross.  Angus-cross bred cattle are the best to sell to the conventional market.

If I came across a little impolite or too blunt, my apologies, but as an expert I have to tell it like it is. :)  Don't stop with the questions though!

And a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to you!  

Cows/Cattle

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


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

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.