When raising young cattle, keeping calves becomes an important success factor for this whole undertaking. In itself, this occupation is one of the promising and bearing minor risks for breeders, since meat and milk are products with steady demand. Naturally, high productivity is provided by many reasons, and the creation of the right conditions plays one of the most important roles.
Where to start
When raising young cows, a variety of goals can be pursued, ranging from getting enough meat and dairy products to trade and ending with tasks of the so-called "repair stock". Often, breeders aim to keep bulls, which cover the cows and thereby bring real and tangible income to their owners. But regardless of the motives, to make a profit from animals, you must first make a lot of effort on their part.
In the conditions of domestic breeding of young stock, everything is simple: you need to protect a newborn calf from other animals with an ordinary partition, including from a mother. If it comes to breeding cattle on an industrial scale, then to create a kind of dispensary for calves, you must adhere to the following recommendations:
- young stock should have its own special room (it is possible to build a separate calf house);
- The selected room should not be dirty, care should be taken that it turned out to be spacious, bright, well ventilated, but without drafts, otherwise there would be a risk of disease and death of cattle;
- no temperature fluctuations or sudden increases in temperature should occur;
- litter plays a major role (optimal use of straw and sawdust for this purpose, always with regular change);
- the calf should have a feeding trough and a drinking bowl.
Do not ignore the question of the availability of tools for cleaning animals, which is necessary to provide the calf house in full. In particular, brushes from metal resistant to deformation will be an excellent option.
The main stages of proper fattening
For the process of growing young stock, this factor is of paramount importance, therefore the approach to it should be appropriate. It is customary to divide it into several stages, each of which has its own peculiarities.
The first stage in the development of cattle will be the dairy period, which begins with the appearance of a calf and lasts up to four, sometimes six months. In the first 10-14 days, a newborn with high activity eats colostrum and mother's milk, which should not be mixed with other types of food so as not to harm the calf's immunity. The young are accustomed to water from about the fifth day of life, it also assumes that hay should be added from the third week of life, and only after that it is possible to diversify the diet with compound feed and concentrates.
The second stage is the suckling one, its difference from the previous one consists only in increasing the volume of use of different types of feed, and this should be done gradually. The temporal boundaries of the period are very blurred, it lasts about 8 months, and it can come even at three months of age. It is at this stage that the breeder should decide on the purpose of rearing.
The third stage is a stage of intensive growth of the calf, when its mass is growing rapidly. At this point, nutritional issues become key, since the calf’s weight gain depends on its quality and quantity. The diet of young animals becomes full-fledged and, thanks to this, the transition to the stage of fattening is carried out, the aim of which is to achieve maximum weight, this is especially important for meat breeds.
Methods of group keeping of young stock
In addition to feeding, the conditions for their housing and rearing play an important role in the development of calves. In this matter, much depends on the direction of the content, that is, for what purpose (obtaining meat or milk) calves are raised. In our conditions, group content has become the traditional method. But recently, the individual method is gaining more and more popularity, especially since it is best suited for the domestic version of breeding.
Group content involves placing the hotels in separate cells for two weeks. At the end of this period, all the stock of young stock is divided into several groups, 5-10 calves in each. From this point on, all of them should be located in the capital buildings with internal division into sections, in which it is necessary to carry out daily cleaning of manure and regularly replace the litter.
For older individuals that have already reached two months of age, it is necessary to organize daily walking, and with mandatory free access of the young to the water and feed. This aspect is extremely important, if you ignore it, the risk of diseases of the stomach and intestines in the calf will increase many times.
The use on the farm of this method of keeping cows involves considerable labor costs on the part of technical staff, in particular, in terms of regular and painstaking harvesting. In addition, the disadvantage of it will be the difficulty of observing an individual approach to calves of the dairy period. They receive food and water evenly, but for some heads this option is not suitable due to their poor health.
Methods of individual houses
This version of the content of calves came to us from the West and has not yet become very widespread. The method is based on placing newborn calves in houses in the open air with an aviary. It has a number of advantages, for example, it does not spread to infectious diseases, increases the resistance of babies, simplifies care for them and makes it possible to fully control the condition of the young by veterinarians.
Blindly follow this option is not worth it, because the content of cattle according to this method in our country is not always justified due to some shortcomings. First of all, it is necessary to take into account the factor of low temperatures in winter, because of which plastic houses simply burst, and young animals were affected by bronchopulmonary diseases. The solution may be the placement of houses under the sheds and the use of films for the walls in the cold period, but this leads to a rise in the price of the already not very cheap technology.
You can use wooden constructions instead of plastic ones, but as a material, wood has not very attractive moisture resistance parameters, plus it is heavier in weight and much more difficult to disinfect.
Houses have small dimensions, their height does not exceed one and a half meters, and the floor area is not more than three. Similar dimensions will be at the pen, which is located in front of the entrance. Sawdust should be poured on the floor as the first layer of bedding, and then covered with straw. The approximate residence time of cattle calves in such structures is two and a half months.
Growing calves in a herd
This variant of growing young stock is not suitable for dairy breeds due to large losses of milk and a decrease in farm productivity. It is best to use this method at home and for breeding meat calves.
For personal farming, keeping young stock together with cows fully justifies itself in terms of various factors. So, in the first two weeks the newborn is too susceptible to various external influences and must necessarily receive a balanced and nutritious diet.
It is provided largely by the milk of his mother, near which he should be kept. To this it is worth adding the fact that during this period the cow still gives milk in minimal quantities, so the loss for the farm will be scanty.
If there are several cows, then the least productive of them should be selected for feeding, but the period of feeding the young itself can be increased.
The most common option would be approximately the semiannual grazing content of growing calves in the herd with their mothers. The benefit of such a solution is that, firstly, keeping young stock will be less costly, since it will begin to feed its mother’s milk. And, secondly, there is no need to keep extra staff for cleaning and maintaining calves. Do not forget that the long stay of the calves in the wild makes them more adapted to the effects of natural factors, reduces the number of diseases and reduces mortality.
Some recommendations for feeding young
If calves are raised for repair purposes (that is, the task is to replace a cow that goes into circulation, or just to increase the number of the herd), then milk should be added to the feed up to six months old.
The same approach should be followed in the event that the goal is to raise cattle of meat. Milk calves show the best growth dynamics, so you need to feed them at least three times a day, giving them two to three liters per feed. It is important to remember that milk should be given diluted, the proportion of water and milk should be 1 to 9.
Naturally, one should not be limited to only one milk, hay and concentrates should be added to the calf's diet. Such supplements should be started from about the second month of life, the initial daily dose should not exceed 100 g. The norm gradually increases, but only to the 500 g mark, its excess will negatively affect the quality and quantity of milk in the future.
Especially careful should be just with concentrates responsible for body fat in the body of the calf. You can use wheat bran finely ground, as well as barley or corn flour. But the most appropriate solution would be the use of oatmeal, sifted from the film. After the beginning of calf grazing, the amount of such substances should be reduced by no less than half.
Succulent feed should be used in the same way concentrates, starting with small doses. It is also acceptable to use mineral feed, for example, bone meal or chalk. All this has a positive effect on the productivity of keeping and raising young cattle.
Flesh feeding for meat and its features
The duration of such fattening of young stock is about one and a half years. If everything is done correctly, then by 18 months the calf should reach a weight of 400 kg, or even 700. At the same time, the meat yield can be from 250 to 450 kg.
The initial stage of this procedure involves frequent feeding of the calf in small portions, since at an early age the digestive system continues its formation. If you give a lot of food, then the cow simply will not have time to digest it and the remnants of food will begin to rot in the intestines. This will cause poisoning, reduce appetite, slow growth and the emergence of various diseases affecting young animals, ranging from intestinal and ending joints.
A feature of meat fattening of cows is its seasonality. In winter, the basis of the calf's nutritional diet consists of animal feed, hay and root vegetables.
Very expensive feed can be successfully replaced by concentrates that are cheaper, and in terms of nutritional value is no worse. In the summer, feeding young cattle implies abandoning root crops, since calves spend a lot of time on pasture.
It is also recommended to reduce the volume of concentrates, but not completely abandon them. The duration of the calf's stay on the pasture is directly related to the climatic features of its habitat.
The specifics of the content of bulls
When the question of meat productivity is put at the forefront in the fattening of young animals, the question of castration of bulls is often raised. A superficial glance at it may lead to the opinion that the answer here may be the only one and not have an alternative, but everything is not so simple.
An uninspired specimen weighs slightly more when casting than a neutered individual; the difference is approximately 8–9%. In the case when a specific task of procuring meat is set, castration is not needed, since its negative impact on the weight gain becomes an important point. But it should be understood that the bull in the process of growing up can demonstrate extremely aggressive behavior, and to show it in relation to its owners. Of course, not all of them become aggressive and attack people. A lot will mean in this matter the maintenance of animals and the behavior of the owners.
First of all, you can not show fear to the maturing calf, at a young age, bulls feel it very well. In addition, it does not make much sense to keep such an animal for more than two years, even if the task of breeding for mating is set. It is rational, upon reaching the age of one and a half to two years, to give the bull for meat and start a new calf on the farm.
If you look at the situation from the other side, the neutered individuals demonstrate the best indicators of fat content of meat and do not show aggression at all. For those breeders to whom excess fat does not cause problems, the question of castration in this case is solved easily and simply, it can be easily accomplished by putting meat steers at the forefront.
The procedure itself is best done as soon as possible when the calf is one, maximum two months. A later time can adversely affect his health, and in general is fraught with a large number of difficulties.
Strong young stock - the key to successful herd productivity
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of healthy young for the development of the herd. Every year, about a quarter of cows become a culling, so the question of high-quality and full replacement in the process of raising and maintaining livestock is particularly acute. It makes sense to leave only healthy cows, showing good and stable development dynamics. Animals with any diseases or depletion should be sent for fattening, otherwise their young will then show low productivity.
The most important selection criterion will be the productivity of mothers - the volume of milk and its quality indicators. It is necessary to take into account the duration of the transition period after childbirth and the ability to recover after calving. Recently, such a factor as the cow's suitability for machine milking has become increasingly important.
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