The girls

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Jul 25, 2011
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NE Arkansas
I bought 10 Angus Plus heifers bred to registered Angus bulls. They came in fat and sassy on October 14. They had been on silage for 90 days before coming here, after spending their life on leased public range grass in southwest Missouri.

These are my first cattle. More than a little nervous, as I always am on a new job. :cowboy:

I have pretty good grass, mostly Bermuda and Fescue. The Bermuda is still standing, but frosted brown. The Fescue is still there but more sparse. I will be moving them again shortly. They have not been without grass.

I fed my first bale of hay on December 22. They liked it. It is homegrown, fertilized Bermuda.

They did not act like they were starving. They return to the bale a couple of times a day. It will be gone by the end of today. One bale, 10 bred heifers, 3 days.

They have lost some condition, but I expected that. They still look good to my untrained eye.

They did not attack the hay like the cubes I give them. I give them 50# of 20% range cubes each Sunday so they love me long time.

I do not intend to have cattle I have to feed grain. I want grass cattle. They will leave here in whatever fashion, sale barn, private treaty, whatever, having lived (and I hope thrive) on my grass alone.

I tell this story so I can hear from you journeymen and what advice you might offer.

Please speak up. I have thick skin.

Thank you & Merry Christmas.. I hope we all have a great 2017.
Don't see why you'd need thick skin for comments here.. I think most all of us want cattle that do well on grass.

I have my own "cubes".. they're sunflower seed pressings after the oil is pressed out.. they will run you over for them, and Micheal Jordan couldn't hold that bucket high enough that they won't get to it.
Cubes are the best thing ever thought of IMO feed mine a sack every week in the pen. I don't want anything I can't catch with a bucket of cubes.
Mine see a white five gallon bucket they will be standing at the pen gate waiting for you to open it
If they're still more interested in your fescue and browned out bermuda than the hay, that's usually a good thing.
As winter progresses, and it gets colder and wetter--and windier, they'll eat more hay for sure if just for the energy content.
In my opinion you are 100 % on the right track. We started with some mixed with dairy breeds, bought a bull, bred some AI, bought some more, bought some better bulls, bought some more, raised up what we thought were our better heifers, bought some better cows, raised some more, bought some pretty good bulls, raised some more. We still buy some cows, most mixed genetics, mostly ones that we think we can turn around and make a few dollars on, but try to keep our best heifers out of our most efficient cows. We have gotten very selective in bought bulls, ONLY buy ones that are not crept fed so that the weaning weights are not always huge but the bulls got their weight at weaning honestly from cows that milked good and were productive. Also buy from farms that have been in business for more than a few years. There have been alot of the "overnight" wonders, often with money behind them by people who needed tax write-offs, that got a bunch of high dollar cattle, sold high dollar bulls and in 10 years were out of business. Now we are keeping a few bulls out of our good cows and have had some real nice calves. It is mostly finding the right combination that works for us in our operation.

We rent alot of land, mostly from people coming to us and asking us to rent it so they can get reduced land use taxes. Many times older farmers, whose kids don't want to work it, some too lazy to help the parents even a little...yet those parents and those farms helped put them through school for the "big money jobs" and they are sitting waiting for the parents to die and leave it to them so they can sell it off and gain from it without more than a few token minutes of effort. Or there is a big family and the one that stayed home can't afford to buy out the rest to keep on farming the family farm and the parents think that they have to leave it "equally" so the one that stayed is getting screwed out of his heritage and hard work by the ones that want a monetary return from the parents that don't really owe them anything. It hurts me to see the in-fighting... all that said, we have alot of places. Some are just 25 acre mini-farms that big money people buy and then rent out the land so they benefit from the land use tax reduction, some just to keep it mowed and open. Alot of it would be better off with animals on it but there are no fences.
I envy you when you were talking about putting in the fences and waterers etc., and being ready for the cattle. And for your doing all the research ahead of time to try to " DO IT RIGHT" . I think you are doing superb already...
Keep records, and keep only the best performing calves for replacements. Best performing isn't always the biggest either... Not saying that you should sh*t can a 1st time heifer if she has a problem....You did not breed them, they are adapting to your environment, and you can't control their past. But, if you do have a problem, make sure you keep track of it and put that down as a strike... One thing I think everyone will agree on, you need to have working facilities to get them in if you need to work them/treat them if you have any problems. That is imperative. If you can't get them in to work them you can't take care of them. I don't remember if you built any working facilities. It doesn't have to be fancy, just sturdy enough to hold an animal that won't be the happiest when there is a problem.

Feeding them a little is a big plus so that they look at you as Santa Claus when you show up. I used to tell people that the animals had to come to me, that I was not going to go chasing them, and around here 30 years ago they laughed at me as everyone went out to "chase" the animals to get them in, "because that's how granddaddy did it". Nowadays, it is the norm for farmers to have cattle that want to come in and I laugh when an old time farmer will say, you know, I thought you were a crazy yankee when you were training your animals to come I can see how much easier it is....So just keeping your girls liking you and not skittish is great. Just sold a heifer calf that was nice but all she wanted to do was fight every human and vehicle that came into the pasture. I mean, came at and chase the vehicles etc... we finally got her to chase my son into the catch pen to get her in with everyone else. That whole family is high headed and we will not be keeping any replacements out of them. They are from some cows that we bought off a friend before he died of cancer so there was a sentimental thing with my son, until this episode with this crazy heifer calf. Very fertile and breed back every time, but I am too old to have to deal with "looney-tune" cattle. He agrees now.
We can go to any pasture and call and they will come running, know that they will get a "treat" and we do it enough and never shut the gates so they get used to being around us. Then when we do shut the gates they think about it a bit. I will often do it and shut the gates and then in a half an hour let them out without doing anything, so the calves learn that every time they are in and all it isn't a terrible thing. We have animals that load themselves on the trailer in the middle of the field because it means they are going somewhere good. Not everyone by far, but you get what I am saying. Seems to me that you are doing fine....
Thanks all. Really, thanks. There seems to be this primal urge for me to feed them.

I have this ordered.

And the panels, gates, etc for this laying in the pasture. BTW - Got a killer deal on this made north of me in Missiouri. Each 10' section weighs about 140#.
Farmer Jan, We started out with a herd that had hardly seen a human. wild b@stards.. So for a while, it was "chase the here and there"..
Then I got a number of them calmed down and halter broke, there were still the freaks in the herd, but at least I could take one of them and lead the rest of herd with her..
Now, I halter break all my calves, at least enough they don't freak and will stand still, and I don't keep anything that doesn't want a petting.. it's taken 25 years to get here, but things are much easier now.. Should any cow need some treatment, most of the time it just means you take a halter and rope, tie them to a fence, and you can lift a hoof, etc. Since I'm pretty much a 1 man show it's especially important. I still have a couple crazy mommas, but for the most part now they bring the baby to me to show it off.
Wow, really REALLY nice!!!!!! We don't have anything that nice. Have a head catch home made at one place, a catch pen and then run them into the shed part of the barn and into the head catch with a wooden 2x that we pull across when they put their head through and put a bolt through the holes to hold it. Not fancy, but it works good enough. Have head catches at a couple other places along the same lines so we can at least get someone in to work them if we have to. Several places we have permanent catch pens and use some portable panels to create a chute to get the cattle into the trailer to bring them back to the big farm we rent from the widow of our deceased friend, where there is a better catch and chute and all. Use the portable catch panels other places to just get them in and transport to the main barn to work.

I think you said you fenced several sections in order to rotational graze...which is smart. Do you have a "laneway so that you can go into different pastures or are they all going from one to another? If you use a laneway of sorts, try to put the pen/catch near/at one end where you can get them from any pasture into the lane and run into the pen. One place we have is subdivided into 5 sections but can only go from one section into the next so we run into problems getting the animals in if there is grass in a section closer to the catch pen and the animals want to graze when you open the gates to that section rather than come into the catch pen. We try to time our rotation so that they will be coming into the closest one to the catch when we are getting ready to bring them out for the winter but it doesn't help us if one gets sick or needs to be caught up...
Another thing, set it up so that you can sort them as they come out of the chute, say calves off to be sold, or if someone isn't bred and needs to go or whatever so you don't have to sort them again after you get done with the chute work...saves a few steps and less upset for the cattle...we can do that at the big barn and it helps to not have to run them in to sort them again...
Nesikep; don't do the "halter broke" since we have so many; but all the dairy nurse cows get a neck chain when they come into the barn for grain and get calves started on them and will put them at some of the pastures if there are some unruly cows. Realize that I do grain feed the dairy nurse cows as they usually get 3 calves each to raise and sometimes I will pull a calf or two and put a second "round" on them. They have to raise a minimum of 2 calves a lactation, but most raise 3 or more.
I do wish that I could get some halter broke but I am satisfied to get them to come in to a bucket and not shy away from me when I walk among them. Have calves on the first calf heifers at the pasture with the nurse cows and they do get a chance to be "crept fed". Mostly to get them to learn that I am not the enemy or the big bad boogey man. I don't believe in creep feeding per say, but when I call the cows up for a little grain treat, the calves will follow the calves on the nurse cows in and find that ohhhh there's something good in there to eat. Gets them quiet and calmer and yesterday I got all 8 in so we could run them in the barn and band and tag them in less than 1/2 hour. Granted, they will think twice about coming in for the next few days, but will get over it and be back to normal in less than a week.
I keep a little bit of hay in the mangers so they can come in and get out of the weather and eat hay and they will come in and get some grain when I feed the calves on the nurse cows. I feed something like 3 to 5 gallons to 8-15 calves so they are only getting a pound or two a couple of times a week. Then these heifers that grow up are already trained to come in if we keep them. I just find that the calves on the fall first calf heifers do a little better with a little extra and gets them tamer at the same time. The spring calving 1st calf heifers will be at this pasture for 8-12 weeks and the calves do learn to come in, then once cattle go to summer pastures they don't get any more feed except on usual runs to check on them & call them in. But winter being what it is, and you are alot further north, some of the hay just can't provide for the growing needs of a first calf heifer feeding a calf and trying to breed back. So if we feed a little to the babies, they are growing better and not dragging the heifers down and they do breed right back. It's not like they have free access to a creep feeder....
I don't plan on a lane. I want to go from paddock to paddock, varying the size to the available grass. The facility is temporary and can be moved.
HD I understand that the facility is temp and can be moved. Next thing is, how old are you and when you get old like some of us :help: :( :( :help: , how much energy and effort will it take to move it.... No offense meant at all... ;-) ;-) . Maybe some of the other members that do rotational grazing can weigh in and they might all think that a common lane to use different pastures isn't all that good...and I would definitely put gates between pastures too, that back up to each other... I just think that having easier access to it or making it more central would be what I would want. We move the portable panels, and with my joint issues the last 2 years, I can no longer take the truck and take 6-10 panels to a pasture and get them set up like I used to so that when my son got off work he could help get them caught up and loaded. And I am not going to manhandle 150 lb sections anyway.... :lol:
Being a small operation is both a blessing and a curse.. the blessing is that I can afford to spend the time with them and at least partially halter break them, and they're calm around me, the curse is that there isn't any money to hire any help should I ever need it

Here's my freezer beef steer... Little did he know the range I told him he was going on was a Hotpoint :p
Nesikep: why do the steers destined for the freezer always wind up being the friendliest and the heifers that you are gonna keep not so much??? Even with the same raising....
Being that you are cubing them once a week I bet you will find its not necessary to move the pens. I have walked cattle several miles with cubes.

I'm with CB on cubes. Some people will complain about the price but they more than pay for themselves in the amount of time they save.
farmerjan":3on4t0sd said:
Nesikep: why do the steers destined for the freezer always wind up being the friendliest and the heifers that you are gonna keep not so much??? Even with the same raising....
Well, same criteria goes for the freezer steer as the rest of them.. gotta be calm.. they gain better and stay tender if they don't get all worked up about everything

Yes, though I don't spend money on my treats for them, it's sure good to have them trained to follow a bucket.. With mine, the trouble is staying ahead of them... even without hands and fingers, it's uncanny how they can get the knobs of their chin on that bucket lip and there's nothing you can do to release their grip on it!
I know what you mean and now it's even harder for me with these joint issues and I just can't move that fast. I try to get the feed out into troughs where we can shut gates then call them and open gates. Other places I try to get feed into at least one trough before they get there and then can get around them to get it in the other without getting pushed too hard or knocked down. But it seems that there is always one steer that is like a puppy dog pet and the one heifer that I want it to be is just a little more standoffish. Not mean or wild, just not slobber all over love you like the steer.
Brute 23":165ofh1j said:
Being that you are cubing them once a week I bet you will find its not necessary to move the pens. I have walked cattle several miles with cubes.

I'm with CB on cubes. Some people will complain about the price but they more than pay for themselves in the amount of time they save.
That is exactly why I cube them. They come a running. They followed me about 1/2 mile down the gravel rode last Saturday.

I PMed you guys on the panels..

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