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Cow Yin and Yang

June 4, 2013

Alas, the cows are in the Coyote field near Cougar Heaven right now.  The nature of pasture rotation coupled with weather makes this so.  It is what it is.  I am not calving in inclement weather, so having the cows close now in a dry lot would make less sense than hoping the fawn crop is such that the cougars don’t have to come out of the dense growth to eat veal.  I am cautiously optimistic we’ll squeak through calving without any problems…however there is the house cow to contend with.  She is close and watched like a hawk.  Here is a little of how my cow days go.


Where the wild things are.

The calves are all doing great, causing their moms consternation in the usual manner.  Yesterday a first calf heifer was beside herself since her calf was bedded down just outside the paddock.  The seasoned cows know that’s okay, and I had to chuckle at the irony that Spot (the new mom) herself went missing for 2 or 3 days when she was a newborn causing her mama and me a LOT of worry in this very same field.

"Veege" and Jack

“Veege” and Jack


Here is a video of Jane’s old nursery mate Lola – she will calve with the herd soon in this pasture, Jane will calve in a field next to the house.  It’s odd sometimes to have both beef and milk cows.  Personally I like lots of beeves and one house cow.

Loose minerals

Loose minerals

I can’t emphasize enough how important adequate minerals are for the health of the cows.  Every day unless it is raining the cows receive kelp and other loose minerals when I move their paddock.  Just like the paddock size, I judge what I think they will eat mineral-wise in a day and allot that amount.  Minerals all throughout the year, really help boost the cows enough to keep “ailments” like pinkeye, hoof problems and retained placenta at bay.  If I could only pick one mineral to buy (they are expensive) I would pick kelp, as it seems to have the broadest array of nutrients in available form for the stock.  Others make the claim A – Z blah, blah, but don’t deliver like good kelp.  And if I could offer one more caveat – don’t mix salt with your minerals as it slows down the intake of minerals.  Salt is a the governor of minerals.  Imagine if you will, a scrumptious meal placed before you, complete with your week’s worth of salt sprinkled on.  You would stop eating once you got your day’s worth of salt and the rest of the food would go untouched.  It’s the same with minerals, I offer salt once a week, the Fertrell mineral I use has a portion of Redmond Trace Mineral salt in it so they are getting salt, just not every day in huge amounts.


Things in the mirror are darker than they appear

Things in the mirror are darker than they appear.

After my stint building fence, moving water and minerals, and checking cow backends,  I head back to civilization where I find it a little ironic that the hot-house flower, Jane, is right near the hothouse on grazing detail.  Her halter hanging in the greenhouse like any other tool.  Her chores are about the same, new paddock, fresh water and minerals and the obligatory butt check.

greenhouse view

greenhouse view

That is a cow day here.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2013 1:27 pm

    Now I’m really curious about where you are located–cougars? Really? We live in Nebraska and have seen mountain lion tracks across our frozen pond a couple of times, and see the occasional bobcat and have lots of coyotes, but most of our predators are smaller scale.

  2. June 4, 2013 1:46 pm

    Our house cow keeps losing her calf too, and he doesn’t call back, so she just walks up and down bellowing at him and at us until we find him for her. Our house cow is special and she knows it, the beef cattle are much better behaved!

    • June 4, 2013 2:01 pm

      Liz, gosh these little guys are a caution. I can hardly wait ’til they reach the brat pack age. Wry smile.

  3. Kristin permalink
    June 4, 2013 1:55 pm

    Tell me again what Fertrell product you are using for the cows. And isn’t their stuff mostly probiotics & yeasts with kelp and a handful of other things? It never occurred to me to put salt out just once a week. Good idea! Thanks!

    • June 4, 2013 3:45 pm

      I like the Poultry Balancer, because it’s easy for me to get and goes good with the type of pasture I have. Any of their products are good, though. The probiotics, kelp and salt are the handful of things. Graziers Choice or Cattle Choice might be good ones if you can get them easily. Every farm needs to do their research depending on their soils etc., what works for me may not work for the next guy. I sure get a lot of raised eyebrows when I say I let my cows eat Poultry minerals :O

  4. Nic permalink
    June 4, 2013 6:27 pm

    Do you really have cougars? I read in the Oregonian the other day that it was just hype saying there were cougars or that they were a problem…usually folks reporting cougar sightings saw something else because they were so scared. I was wondering if a livestock guardian dog would help? A friend of mine has one to protect her goats and sheep, and it seems to be working out well for her.

    Your brown cows are really pretty with the green trees in the background. 🙂

  5. Janet permalink
    June 4, 2013 9:55 pm

    When the cougars/mountain lions cart off someone’s kid or dog they won’t be saying it is just hype anymore. We have them here in NM as well. One killed a deer in a residential neighborhood a block from my friend’s house in the middle of the day. They aren’t something to mess around with. Hope your calves all stay off the menu!

  6. June 5, 2013 6:24 am

    We’re realizing that we’ll have to keep the dairy separate from the beef next year. It really stresses the shorthorn heifers when the jerseys spend the night at the barn. If I have 20 shorthorns next year, I can’t bring them all to the barn with the two jerseys.

    You seeing any happy lines in the cows yet?

    • June 5, 2013 7:09 am

      HFS, yeah the separating never works, too much stress on the cows and cowherder 😦 Plus, I would be going a mile to get Jane right now – shoots a big hole in the day to walk a slow Guernsey a mile…

      Happy lines on Jane, a couple of the cows that have calved already, beeves going for, well uh, beef, and none yet on my first calf heifers 🙂 😦 If I listen to GJ I should get rid of them since June 1st has passed, but then that would have me keeping my 16 yo cow that slipped a calf – she’s slicker than a seal. So I guess since I don’t take marriage advice from GJ, I won’t follow him to a tee on culling either.

      • June 5, 2013 10:14 am

        You’re married to a 16 year old cow?

        I think the shorthorns I got are quality animals but only 4 of the 6 are slick at all. I suspect by next year my pasture will be in better shape, the cows will be showing positive effects of better mineralization, they will calve in May and we’ll start seeing happy lines. I have little hope of ever seeing happy lines on the jerseys. I do plan to cull open cows though, not because Judy says to but because Judy, Lasater, David Hall (list goes on) say to. I have to pre-program my herd for success on fescue.

        • June 5, 2013 11:12 am

          No, but you know what I meant :p Actually I’m married to the land and all the cows!

          Really on the Jerseys? First calves are hard on them though, and one was a little young I think…next year I bet they’ll surprise you. Yes, no open cows here, unless there is some reason I can’t think of. Old, Open or Ornery, the three O’s. Maybe I should cull myself, they fit.

        • June 5, 2013 11:13 am

          LOL. I’ll bid if I see you at the sale barn.

  7. Sarah permalink
    June 5, 2013 4:14 pm

    I was told that the salt makes the minerals more palatable. I am using feed store minerals. Maybe I should go to kelp…

    • June 5, 2013 7:26 pm

      You want the minerals to be palatable on their own, no molasses, salt etc. Get a bag and try it, the stock will tell you how palatable it is. 🙂

  8. Tara permalink
    June 9, 2013 4:26 pm

    What is a happy line and where can I get one?

    Do you have fly issues where you live? Our poor cattle, especially the Jersey, are just coated with them. I’ve tried homeopathics and essential oils, but nothing is working. My old neighbours give me a ‘tsk tsk’ because I won’t use the chemicals every around here uses. Any advice?

    • June 10, 2013 8:38 am

      Tara, the happy lines are the vertical lines on cow’s barrel and neck when they are in good shape and slick. Your cows probably have them 🙂

      We have a few flies but daily moves really make a difference as we are moving the cattle away from the manure each day. The milk cow has a fly mask and I use a product called NO-FLY as a wipe on for her once in a while.

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