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Cattle Care

Cattle care includes feeding, housing, and providing for the daily needs of your cows. Whether you choose to keep cows for production, as show animals, or even just as pets, it is important to know how to care for them properly. Although their nutritional needs are similar to goats and sheep, knowing the particulars of cattle care is critical to keeping happy cows.

Cows eat mainly at pasture, but should also be provided with fresh alfalfa for nutrition. If your cattle will not be able to forage for sufficient nutrition at pasture in the winter, provide clean hay. The hay your cattle eats should be green and fresh. The outside of the bales may be bleached by the sun to a light gold color, but the inside of the bale should be fresh-smelling and clean. If the entire bale is yellow and coarse, the hay was probably left too long in the field before being cut. While it is still safe to feed to your cattle, it is not as good a choice nutritionally as fresher hay would be. Hay that is brown, black, or musty smelling is not only poor for cattle care, but could actually be harmful to your stock.

Whether or not your cattle require grain and how much of it depends in large part on why you are raising them. Cattle raised for beef production should be fed a healthy grain diet to ensure their growth and market potential. Cattle care includes ensuring your cows have access to plenty of fresh water at all times; cows can drink up to ten or fifteen gallons of water each day.

How much space you need for cattle care depends on the type and size of your cows, as well as the size of your herd. If penned, each cow should have enough room in his pen to turn around while standing, and to lie on his sternum (allowing sufficient space to get up and down easily from this position). The barn itself should have sufficient airflow to allow the cattle to receive fresh air, and a solid roof to keep them dry in inclement weather. Straw or sawdust make appropriate ground covering for the cattle, and should be cleaned and replaced regularly.

Health care for cattle varies greatly, depending on the reason you keep the animals. Cows can carry a variety of diseases, and when kept in a herd it is important to practice good health care and quarantine new herd members. A few cattle kept as pets raise fewer concerns, but speak to your large animal veterinarian regarding vaccination recommendations.

Cows are generally docile and social animals, making them interesting to be around. They quickly adjust to human handlers and like regular feeding, pasturing, and sleeping schedules. Specifics of cattle care depend, in large part, on how many animals you have and your purpose in keeping them. Regardless of this, proper cattle care includes feeding and housing your animals correctly.

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