Caring for your cattle
This is an ever growing list of things that have been requested of us about how to properly care for the cattle. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, truer words were never spoken when it comes to livestock.
1. Here is our vaccination protocol from our state extension program. It is a must read for every cow owner. This document explains everything you need to know about vaccines, what types there are and how they work. I review it often as a favorite reference sheet.
2. Here is a yearly calendar type planner based on the age of the cow, calf or heifer. This document helps you plan things like what you'll need to do at weaning and prior to breeding, etc.
3. Here is a fabulous website that can let you learn at your own pace as you explore all things cattle. It has all kinds of research backed methods to bring your cattle knowledge right to the top of the class. I would bookmark this for future browsing.
4. Here is a great record sheet to help you keep track of anything done to your cattle. It is part of good husbandry to keep detailed records. Your vet will love you for being the person that isn't guessing about what happened and when you gave them a specific medicine. These records could save your animals life so keep them up to date and accurate. We keep ours in an online format that can be accessed even in the event of an emergency.
5. What vaccines should I use? Here is the list that the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network recommends and requires if you were to be enrolled with their program. We utilize these same high levels of vaccine protection in our own herd. What's an extra few dollars to keep the cow from getting sick and the vet bills it would cost? Prevention is key. It's why we vaccinate in the first place, so make it count!
6. Know your laws when you buy, sell or move cattle both in your state and if you cross state lines. The seller should know the current rules for their state and you should know them for your state. If you buy from an inexperienced seller know that if you are moving a breeding age bull without the proper paperwork they can be impounded and possibly sent to slaughter. Don't buy a bull without the Trich test, it's illegal in some states (most that I know of) unless the bull is going directly to slaughter. Once the test sample has been taken the bull must be removed from all female cattle until the results come back, as the buyer you must insist or the results are void.
7. Wormers, this really comes down to a few determining factors.
- What region of the country are you in? Don't treat for liver flukes if you don't have liver flukes in your area.
- Timing, don't treat for parasites in the wrong season. Treating (worming) in the wrong season is literally wasting your money. I liken it to spraying for weeds with snow on the ground.
- Method of treatment, do you know how much your animals weigh accurately? Do you have the facilities to work the cattle for injectable wormers? There are wormers that work in every situation, knowing before you buy is key.
- Have you consulted your vet or done a fecal egg count? Worming is a medical treatment so consulting your vet is always recommended. Fecal egg counts allow you to know if you need to worm and sometimes can indicate a prefered wormer to kill the thing that has infested your herd. If you have large worm loads I recommend worming everything on your property at the same time...cattle, horses, goats, llamas, chickens, etc. You don't want one animal reinfesting the freshly wormed ones.
- READ THE WORMER LABEL, some wormers can't be used on breeding bulls. If you've invested in a bull then you want them to "work" but did you know you could sterilize them (even temporarily) by improperly dosing out wormers labeled safe for breeding age bulls. Some wormers are strictly labeled, always read the label yourself. Ruining a $4,000 bull with a $10 dose of wormer is a reality...if this scares you then good, read the label again.
Here is a great wormer chart to help you start looking at wormers and do some comparisons: Wormer Comparison Chart