Cattle Go Out To Graze

This week the cattle have left the fold yard and have gone out to graze, no more silage and fodder beet for them but lovely green grass to eat!

The cattle first went out onThursday and came in at night for the first two nights as we had a cow to inject with antibiotics due to a lump on face.

On Saturday the cattle were let out and they have stayed out all night, although I don’t think they have enjoyed the rain!

Here are a few photos of the cattle waiting to come out and then being let out and walking to the field.

The Charolais Bull and Cows waiting to go out to grass.

The Charolais Bull and Cows waiting to go out to grass.

Gates open and cows and calves head out to the field.

Gates open and cows and calves head out to the field.

A leisurely walk to the field.

A leisurely walk to the field.

The cows and calves nearly at the back field.

The cows and calves nearly at the back field.

The cattle enjoying the sunshine and laying around the field.

The cattle enjoying the sunshine and laying around the field.

Cow and calf chewing the cud!

Cow and calf chewing the cud!

Do you keep cattle and have yours gone out to grass or are they cattle that stay out all year?

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Charolais Cross Bull Calf Born

A charolais cross bull calf was born on the farm yesterday. The calf has a lovely natured limousin mother and the father is a charolais bull.

The cow needed to be helped with the birth as the calf was a large bull calf and was taking some time to come out, so the farmer’s helped the calf and cow along with the calving process.

A calving stick is used to help pull the calf out. Two sets of ropes are added to the calf’s feet and then added to the calving stick and then the ratchet on the calving stick is manoveured up and down until the calf is pulled out of the cow.

Charolais Cross Bull Calf Just Born

Charolais Cross Bull Calf Just Born

The temperatures were below zero on the day the calf was born so the photos show the calf just after he was borning and steam is coming off his hot body.

Charolais Cross Bull Calf Just Born

Charolais Cross Bull Calf Just Born

The calf was bottle fed the first night as he hadn’t got up but the calf is now standing and suckling well.

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Symptoms Of Liver Fluke In Cattle

As well as damaging the liver of the cattle, liver fluke can reduce milk production in dairy cattle and lower feed conversion rates in beef cattle.

Principle signs of liver fluke in cattle are:

  • Gradual loss of condition.
  • Progressive weight loss.
  • Reduction in milk yields.
  • Bottlejaw.
  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Animals may become jaundiced.
  • Cattle reluctant to move any distance.

Click on the image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.


Heifers Move To Fold Yard For The Winter

We have had 10 heifers grazing in the paddock and back field all Summer and today we moved them indoors for the Winter. The heifers will be wormed in the next few days a standard practice afer spending the Summer months grazing the fields.

One of the heifers has stiff back legs so we have sectioned her off so that she has her own quarters and won’t be knocked by the other nine heifers in the fold yard.

The animals are given milled barley and silage to eat twice a day.

Click on the image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.

When Do Farmers Prefer Their Cows To Calve?

When do farmer’s prefer their cows to calve? We prefer to calve our herd of beef cattle cows after the end of February and through Spring.

Dear Sara, I am conducting some research and wonder if you might be able to help. Can you tell me when do farmers generally prefer their cows to calf and are there any circumstances that you might be able to suggest as to why a cow would calve in July e.g. premature birth etc. I know this might seem a strange enquiry so I apologise. Many thanks Chris

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your enquiry on the farmingfriends website. My husband is the cattle expert and I have asked him his opinion.

He says that they prefer to calve their beef cattle cows after end of Feb and in Spring as they are less susceptible to pneumonia. The disadvantage of a calf being born in Spring is that when the cows/calves go out to grass the calf will still be suckling milk from the mother and not utilising fully the grass.

If a calf is born in the Autumn/Winter then they can utilise the grass when they go out in late Spring/Summer. The disadvantage of calving in early winter is the calf is growing when the weather is cold and wet and so more susceptible to pneumonia.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions related to this.

Kind regards

Sara @ farmingfriends

Let me know your views on the preferred time for calving cows.

Click on the image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.

What To Do When Walking In A Field With Cattle

The recent tragic event of the vet who was killed by a herd of cows whilst walking her dogs and the injuries sustained by David Blunkett as he walked his dog, highlight the need for a greater awareness of what to do when walking in a field of cattle especially when you have a dog.

I was listening to the Radio 4 Farming Today podcast the other day and they advised that if you encounter cattle whilst walking:

  • try to walk near to a hedge or fence so that you can get close into the hedge if need be.
  • don’t run as the cattle are likely to start running as well and they can run fast.
  • stay calm so as not to spook the animals.
  • stay quiet.
  • keep any dogs on a lead so you can control the dogs.

However, lets just clarify the situation when walking with a dog.    It is sensible to keep the dog on the lead whilst walking through the field, as the herd may be dispersed across the field and you can keep the dog under control and away from the cows.  The problem occurs if a cow sees the dog and reacts to the threat of the dog.  One of the first signs that a cow is becoming agitated is that it will lift its head up and look alert.  It may then start to nod its head.  Nodding of the head is a sign of aggression and it is advisable to slowly retreat from the cow, watching it all the time.  It is recommended to release your dog from its lead if there is a danger of the cow attacking.  The cow is most likely to feel threatened by the dog (rather than you) so releasing the dog will separate you from the dog.  Most dogs can run much faster than a cow and you can try to distance yourself from the dog.  If a cow starts to nod its head and come towards you then it is likely to be already in very close proximity to you (probably less than 10 metres) and so you will not have much time to take action (probably less than 2 seconds ).

People  often feel in danger from a herd of cows when walking across a field and the cows start to follow them.  The faster the person walks/runs, the faster the cattle will chase behind.  Attacks tend to be from a single cow that has become aggressive and not from a whole herd of cows.  If a whole group are trotting behind you then it is likely to be inquisitiveness.  In this situation the only danger is if one of the animals inadvertantly kicks as they pass by or gets over excited as they trot up to you.  Just turn around, jump up in the air, wave your arms in a star-jump style and shout at the herd.  This will stop them from running towards you and temporarily disperse the group of cattle.  Then slowly walk towards the closest hedge or boundary feature where you can safely get out of the way.

I mentioned that cows can kick.  In fact they can kick very hard, but it is usually only when they are frisking and frollocking about and are excited.  They kick with their rear legs and kick out sideways, up to a height of about 1.8 metres.  They tend to kick as they run past a person and sort of twist their bodies around.  If you imagine a cow running past you and then pivoting on their front legs and kicking out sideways then you will realise that they can kick out some distance (2-3 metres).  So if one runs past you, try and keep a good distance away from it.

We keep cattle on our farm and as I have not been brought up with close access to cattle, although I think they are beautiful creatures and on the hole docile and placid animals, I am still wary of them as they are such big creatures and all animals including humans, can behave unpredictably.

If I have to go into any of our fields with cattle in, then I always make sure I know where the cattle are and where I can get out of the field if I need to. As I move about the field I make sure that I always have one eye on the herd’s location  so that I can keep a check of their movements and behaviour.

It is always a good idea to check if the cattle are grazing with a bull and to be aware of where the bull is. If a cow is in season and the bull wants to mate with the cow then the bull and possibly other cows will be trying to mount each other and cattle leaping up into the air can be an added danger that you need to be vigilant of.

It is usually cows with new born calves that are aggressive/protective. The cows instinct is to protect the  calf at all costs and an unknown human and a dog are seen as a threat to the calf. Even when the calves are growing and are more than a week old, it is important not to get in between the cow and a calf as the cow will still be protective towards her calf and doesn’t like to be separated from the calf.

The North York Moors National Park has a leaflet giving advice about walking with dogs on the North York Moors which you may find useful.

Calves Born On The Farm

This morning at about 6.00am a Charolais heifer calf was born to Number 28 Charolais cow. Then this afternoon a Limousin cross bull calf was born to a Limousin Cross cow.

Here is a video of the cows and calves.

The Charolais calf is suckling after about 4 hours and the mother is very protective and won’t let the farmer get close to the calf so the calf’s navel can’t be sprayed.

The Limousin calf was standing and suckling after about half an hour and the farmer was able to spray the navel with Alymacin spray to protect the calf from infection.

Unpredictable Saler Cow

One of our Saler cross cows, who I call One Ear, as she has a floppy ear, is a bit unpredictable and when she is in calf or has just had a calf, no one can go anywhere near her. This year she was due to calve late so we put her out in the back field with the weaned calves. She calved out in the back field with no problems, however because we are unable to go near the cow and calf because of the cows unpredictable behaviour, the calf is not used to human contact.

Yesterday we decided to bring the cattle in from the back field so we could check and tag the calf. The calf did not respond well as he is not used to humans and it took the farmers quite a while to tag the calf.

My husband wants to fatten the cow and then sell her for meat and doesn’t want to breed from her anymore as she is bad to deal with. My father-in-law doesn’t want to sell the cow. I believe that if the cow is aggressive then it is not fair to keep the cow and breed from her as the offspring may also have this aggressive trait. I don’t have to deal with the cows so I will let them argue this predicament out amongst themselves.

  1. That is a bit of a dilemma for them to figure out. There seems something to argue for on both sides. Hopefully, they will come to an agreement :)Comment by wildlifegardener – August 22, 2008 @ 12:05 pm
  2. Hi Wildlifegardener,
    Thanks for visiting and commenting. I am glad that I don’t have to make the decision!
    Kind regards
    Sara @ farmingfriendsComment by Sara @ Farming Friends – August 22, 2008 @ 8:01 pm
  3. Hi Sara,
    You had commented on my blog and asked the question; “What is Catsup”…..as kids that is the way we said Ketchup. I did change it in my post, I realize now it may have been confusing…thank you.Comment by Julie – August 25, 2008 @ 4:29 am
  4. She’s only takin care of her babies if u ask meComment by junior – September 2, 2008 @ 5:47 pm
  5. Hi Junior,
    Yes I agree she is taking care of her calf as most animals become very protective over their offspring.
    Thanks again for your comments.
    sara @ farmingfriendsComment by Sara @ Farming Friends – September 5, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

Farming Life Video Diary – Suckler Cows And Calves

At this time of year the suckler cows and calves are put out to grass in a field with an electric fence so that the cattle do not escape from the field. The calves were born in the fold yard and are not used to the electric fence so we placed an electric fence in the fold yard for a few days to train the calves not to touch the electric fence when they are placed in the field.

 

We also bought two cows and their calves last week. They were placed in the field and not in the fold yard so that the cattle did not fight with the new cows. When the cattle are placed in the field they usually don’t fight as there is enough space for them to mix well together.

Watch the video clip of the suckler cows and calves.

I hope that you enjoyed watching the farming life video diary of our suckler cows and calves.

Guest Appearance – Cow Watching By Paula

Locks Park Farm is a small organic farm in Devon, with sheep and beef cattle. Paula farms Locks Park Farm with her family and also writes very interesting, informative and entertaining posts all about life on her farm which I thoroughly enjoy reading. I am thrilled that Paula decided to appear on my guest appearance spot. Read this fascinating account of the cattle at Locks Park Farm and learn how to cow watch at the same time……

Cow watching may sound to you a bit like paint drying, but believe me it’s akin to a soap opera. And herd dynamics are totally fascinating. This is a short précised post on a subject I could wax lyrical on!

Ours is a closed herd. This means I don’t buy in any cattle except for a bull about every three years. It’s well established through the female line with daughters, grand-daughters and great grand-daughters now running in the herd. I do my best, within the limitations of our land, management and so forth, to respect the animals’ natural behaviour.

Jennifer and Julie governed the herd in tandem for many years. They had set roles. Jennifer was the traditional matriarch, the top-ranking cow, and Julie the ‘scout’ cow – it was she who would decide where and when the herd should move. Unfortunately Julie is no longer with us and this, along with the sale of some older cows, upset the social order. Jennifer lost her confidence for about a year, but has since re-established herself as head cow with another governing body, consisting of Desiree, Severn and Warbler.

High ranking or senior cows are much more confident, if sometimes rather aloof towards their herdsman. He or she (the herdsman) has to establish a place in the herd too; ideally at the top of the tree! Since I’m tiny beside the cows, weighing less than a tenth of their bulk, I need to ensure they respect me (without fearing me) so I can manage, move or treat them on my own. Nowadays I’m able to separate off a single cow and calf from the herd and lead them away, demonstrating the degree of trust that has developed over the years.

Interestingly the bull acts only as a visual and audio deterrent. He’s the herds’ ‘ego’. Out there ready to shout and display himself in his full glory if there’s any threat or excitement. But he has no say in the running of the herd. This is a matriarchal society. Our current bull is huge and impressive but has the character of a rather bumptious schoolboy…the young calves enjoy teasing him without fear of reprisal!”

If I take a cow or two away from the herd for more than a few days, on returning them fights will break out as the cows test each other’s strength and will, and redefine their place in the pecking order. Things soon quieten down, and from then on confrontations over choice grazing or lying space are avoided as subordinates simply walk away with little more than a look or nudge from higher ranking individuals.

Calves from high ranking cows are generally more outgoing and confident than their peers. When daughters come back into the main herd as bulling heifers they demonstrate a mature calmness. Though still at the bottom of the herd’s social structure they don’t exhibit nervousness when in direct confrontation with superiors. After their second calf they usually begin to test and take on roles of government. Hermione, one of Desiree’s daughters, has just started acting as a scout cow – shouting and walking the gateway to let me know that the grass is running short.

Some of my friends may think me odd with my passion for leaning on gates and watching cattle, and I am of course, but with good reason!

Cow Watching By Paula @ Locks Park Farm.

If you have a farming story, memory or farm visit that you would like to share then please send me your story and I will happily include it on a guest appearance post.