Cows/Cattle/beefmaster

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Question
about that beefmaster cow with the calf, she sort of have a loose stool its not that bad, but its loose than normal. she is 4 years old, and the calf is about 2 months old.also about her losing weight so she had given birth in may and i can see her hip bones thats why ive asked what can i do so i can get her back on her weight or thats normal since she had just given birth 2 months ago. God bless

Answer
Loose is better than firm, for sure.  If it's really watery, then that's cause for concern, but grass and high-protein diets can make a cow's stools a bit looser than what is considered normal.  When a cow's stool looks like it's piled, that means that she's getting not enough protein that she should be getting in her diet. When it's loose, like a consistency between thick and soupy to a little thinner, but not overly watery, then that's normal, and that means she's getting a good amount of protein.

When you get really watery stools and she keeps losing weight no matter how high or how much concentrate you feed her, you may have a cow with Johne's Disease. (Just a quick note: I am no veterinarian by any means, but I do know that thinness in cattle, if it cannot be fixed with better nutrition, is a symptom of something more serious, such as Johne's.) I don't mean to scare you at all, but since I don't know how long you've had her, or her history and all, it's just one of those possibilities that every cattle producer should be aware of. I honestly have my doubts that she does, since you did say that 1) she lost weight since she had calved and not before, 2) her stool is loose but its not bad--not like scary, explosive-diarrhea-bad, and 3) being a beefmaster animals of such a breed are very resilient as far as being prone to diseases is concerned. So no sweat, it was just something I'd thought I would mention to keep you aware of. :)

But I'd much rather have you see if you can do a body condition score on her to see whether she's at a normal condition or a little thinner than she should be. Merely being able to see her hip bones is, IMHO, not enough for me to judge whether she's a little thinner than she should be or just slightly below normal.  You see, it depends on how sharp or prominent those hip-bones are.  The sharper they appear, the thinner she is. The amount of rib you can see also determines her level of thinness or fatness.  If you can see more than two ribs, then she most certainly is thinner than she should be. Check out these links for more info on BCS of cows and how to perform them on your cow:

http://www.backyardherds.com/web/viewblog.php?id=236-bcs-of-cows
http://www.cowbcs.info/aboutbcs.html
http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1965/ANSI-3283web.pdf
http://www.wikihow.com/Judge-Body-Condition-Scores-in-Cattle

I know you probably understand this already, but weight gain on a cow takes time.  If you can increase her protein and energy intake--though I did caution against feeding grain, with a cow that may be a bit thinner than normal, it may be best to do so, starting small then gradually working up to feeding her around 5 to 10 lbs per day, or around 1% of her body weight--that will help boost her weight as well as milk production.  You will need to feed her more because she will be putting a lot of the good stuff that you are feeding her into milk production, and into her body after.  For a cow, milk production is priority over what she needs for her body.

Also remember, she needs to eat 50% more than what she does when dry. That means, if she's a 1200 lb cow consuming 2.5% of her body weight in dry matter ration per day as a dry cow, she will need to consume 5% of her body weight in DM ration per day when she's lactating. (DM means dry matter, which refers to taking all the water out of the feed.) As-fed values (in percentages or terms of weight) are higher due to actual moisture content of the feed. So, for instance, if she were to consume 5% of her body weight in DM ration of say, hay, in terms of as-fed values, she may consume around 6% of her body weight as-fed in hay--or up to 10% of her body weight with pasture forage.

If I were you, I'd introduce grain (remember, grain is high on energy and low on protein, otherwise great for putting weight in terms of fat on her) and alfalfa and any other high-protein supplement you can get from the feed store. High-protein (low energy) supplements include soybean meal, cottonseed meal, canola meal, alfalfa cubes/pellets, protein blocks, etc.
I found a few highly useful links relevant to your location on supplementing beef cows. These may be a bit more helpful in pointing you the right direction to better determine what to feed and how much to your beefmaster cow than what I can give you due to our vast differences in location:

http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-1924/ANSI-3010web.pdf
http://animalscience.tamu.edu/files/2012/04/beef-factors-and-feed.pdf
http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/96167/supplementary-feedin

I hope this has been a little more helpful to you, and I have high hopes that your cow will get back up to good shape soon. :)

Take care,

-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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