How to settle newly purchased cattle into their winter housing
Published 11/10/2011 | 05:00
The sudden change in the weather has caused a surge in the number of heavier animals being housed. The number of animals moving through the marts has also increased, and buyers are sourcing animals to finish over the coming winter season.
These heavier stores will most likely be housed directly on arrival at the purchasing farm. The change of environment, feed and the added stress of movement will have a huge negative effect on the animals if this process is not correctly managed.
Getting the animals off to their best start will have a significant effect on how they perform from the perspective of live weight gain and profitability. All cattle on arrival on farm, irrespective of distance travelled, should be rested before any veterinary treatments are carried out. Resting for a number of days on straw-bedded areas will greatly reduce the stress on the animal. It is essential to have fresh clean water available at all times in these 'reception' areas.
Irrespective of the final ration the animals will be moving onto for finishing, having some fresh, clean hay available in the rest area will help settle the animals onto feed and eliminate one more stress point.
Every effort should be made to avoid mixing groups from different sources/ marts. There is the risk of cross infection and bullying. It goes without saying that that mixing of the sexes at any time should never occur, and if mixed at this time the rest period will undoubtedly be severely impeded.
The housing period is a very busy time on most livestock farms. Where other duties such as autumn calving of cows, winter sowing of cereals and harvesting of beet are also occurring, the work burden is greatly increased. It's essential, therefore, that enough time is allocated to correctly herding and examining freshly-housed animals.
All animals should be inspected twice daily, once in the morning and again in the late evening. Inspection is achieved most effectively by walking through the pens to ensure every animal is seen.
However, your safety is of paramount importance, so take all necessary precautions to protect yourself.