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Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:41 am
by SteppedInIt
I always have one that is pushed around and stays skinny. I have gotten rid of aggressive boss cows, have gotten rid of the poor doer giving me trouble, and the next in line takes its place. These are usually heifers I will keep. Last year I turned out a weaned steer with the herd I kept for butcher. He became that one and just gradually went down. This is a small herd less than 20 head.

The one I'm having trouble with now is a heifer. She acts normal, as usual, she will eat just not aggressive. If I pen her up with feed she stays at the gate wanting out with the rest of them. This is one continual problem I have yet to solve.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:00 am
by MRRherefords
This is a difficult situation that we deal with a lot. There is always one to take its spot. We try to spread food out so that there is no chance that she goes hungry. This may be taking it to extreme, but in the past we have walked then into an area, just for food then turn them out. Or you could pen her up just like you have and if she is hungry she will eat. If there is another heifer similar to her put them together. This may help. Good luck.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:52 am
by Brute 23
You need bigger pens, more troughs, etc. That will help.

Cattle will ways find a pecking order. Life is not fair or equal no matter what the libs say. I would get rid of the less aggressive cattle.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:03 am
by greybeard
I have a bullied one like that myself, never did grow off as good as she should have but raised a couple of calves ok, but she's still destined for the sale barn next time I take some.
Once any of the others find out they can push one around, all of 'em will usually join in, but you'll always have a matriarch. I've even seen some try to push a bull off the object of their aggression too.
Cows can be pretty cruel sometimes..

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:12 am
by Brute 23
I have moved cattle from one property to another. They looked sorry at one place but I knew they were getting their butt whooped there. Moved them to another and they bloomed.

At the end of the day a cow has to do her job, no matter the cause, if it's not getting done she has to go.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:47 am
by SteppedInIt
I have tried about everything. More troughs, feeding separate, different pens, getting rid of cattle, both the aggressive and the weak. I fed them in open pasture, in pens of different sizes. Ever since I downsized is when this started to happen. I am wondering if being such a small group is the problem. Honestly I have been unable to grow this herd trying to solve this problem and is costing me a lot of money. The heifer I am having trouble with now was healthy and thriving until I got rid of the then bullied heifer. Now this one is bullied. I think if I get rid of her, the next one will go down.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:48 am
by SteppedInIt
The other common factor is... this happens with calves I keep. If I bring in a new heifer, no problems.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:00 am
by dun
Brute 23 wrote:You need bigger pens, more troughs, etc. That will help.

Pretty well sums it up. If you use hay rings, they need to be a distance apart and have t least 3 holes per head.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:02 am
by SteppedInIt
The other thought is, maybe I should keep the heifers separate for longer. I will usually wean the calves off 7-10 months depending on circumstance. I will pen them and feed them 3 to 4 months and turn them back in with the cows. Maybe I should keep them another month or two separate.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:04 am
by dun
SteppedInIt wrote:The other thought is, maybe I should keep the heifers separate for longer. I will usually wean the calves off 7-10 months depending on circumstance. I will pen them and feed them 3 to 4 months and turn them back in with the cows. Maybe I should keep them another month or two separate.

We turn our heifers back in at about 8 weeks and don;t have a problem. They may get the snot knocked out of them at first (usual pecking order crap) then they all settle down together. But we have feed widely spread if we are feeding and lots of head holes in the winter when we feed hay.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:27 am
by SteppedInIt
dun wrote:
SteppedInIt wrote:The other thought is, maybe I should keep the heifers separate for longer. I will usually wean the calves off 7-10 months depending on circumstance. I will pen them and feed them 3 to 4 months and turn them back in with the cows. Maybe I should keep them another month or two separate.

We turn our heifers back in at about 8 weeks and don;t have a problem. They may get the snot knocked out of them at first (usual pecking order crap) then they all settle down together. But we have feed widely spread if we are feeding and lots of head holes in the winter when we feed hay.
I get what your saying about spreading widely. I can spread feed wide, but they will eat it together and move together. I can have several bales of hay out, they will eat together at one or two bales and move to the others later. If the bullied one happens to eat at a bale alone, the others will go over there and start eating that one. I am chasing my tail with this nonsense. They are on green pasture now, they aren't touching hay. The cows will be grazing and one will walk over and start grazing where the heifer is and run her off or she will stop grazing and just stand there. Its madness.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:00 pm
by dun
SteppedInIt wrote:
dun wrote:
SteppedInIt wrote:The other thought is, maybe I should keep the heifers separate for longer. I will usually wean the calves off 7-10 months depending on circumstance. I will pen them and feed them 3 to 4 months and turn them back in with the cows. Maybe I should keep them another month or two separate.

We turn our heifers back in at about 8 weeks and don;t have a problem. They may get the snot knocked out of them at first (usual pecking order crap) then they all settle down together. But we have feed widely spread if we are feeding and lots of head holes in the winter when we feed hay.
I get what your saying about spreading widely. I can spread feed wide, but they will eat it together and move together. I can have several bales of hay out, they will eat together at one or two bales and move to the others later. If the bullied one happens to eat at a bale alone, the others will go over there and start eating that one. I am chasing my tail with this nonsense. They are on green pasture now, they aren't touching hay. The cows will be grazing and one will walk over and start grazing where the heifer is and run her off or she will stop grazing and just stand there. Its madness.

I think you need to cull both ends, the most bullyish and the most timid.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:24 pm
by backhoeboogie
dun wrote:I think you need to cull both ends, the most bullyish and the most timid.


That is best. Its hard to cull when you need more head in the pasture. I kept too many after the drought years. I was trying to expand and simply didn't want to cull anything that produced for me.

An ideal situation would be a 10 percent cull per year.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:07 pm
by Brute 23
It sounds like you run quite a few head in close quarters. This will be an on going issue. Culling will be a necessity to make it work.

Re: Bullied Heifers

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:49 pm
by farmerjan
Am not sure of the answer, but once we wean calves, and decide what heifers to keep as replacements, they are kept separate and do not go back with the main herd until they have their second calf. Weaned calves are fed/grazed/ kept in their own pasture. Mostly just heifers but sometimes there is a steer or 2 for whatever reason. Especially if they had pinkeye and the eye was bad and is white or something that will discount them too much at the yard so we keep them for a beef. We always have people looking for a beef now and again.
We feel that they deserve to eat and not have to compete with the older cows. I usually keep 15-30 a year, and not all get to the breeding pen as we do 2 cuts. First at weaning, then take another look at them when they are in the 12-15 month range. Usually have a few that just don't make the 2nd cut. Then they are bred, and calve with only their own age group and have a chance to be a mama, and then get rebred. Once the calf is weaned off, then they will get introduced back into the main herd. Since we have several places we keep cattle, we do tend to keep age groups together, but often will put 2nd calvers with the real old grandma group if they need to be fed over the winter.
The whole thing is, they need to grow and mature enough to find their own place before they have to start fighting off the bigger bully cows.
If you do any rotational grazing, they should be in the "forward "group, getting the best grass, so they can take advantage of the better nutrients. I really would try to run 2 different groups somehow, if there are only a couple of heifers, then you ought to be able to figure out a way to keep them separate until they are at least bred or better, have their first calf on the ground.