10 week old calf, new to pasture question

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tlafferty502
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10 week old calf, new to pasture question

Post by tlafferty502 » Sun Jun 07, 2020 10:10 am

Hello,
New to cows here!
A little back story.... My husband just bought a 10 week old jersey steer calf. The calf is banded. The farmer he bought him from said that he was weaned and eating grain (he saw him eating grain while there). The farmer brought him to our pasture. Our pasture is plenty big enough. However, it has not had animals in it for about 4 years (previous owners horses). There is sufficient area of low grass for the calf but most of the pasture grass was very tall (taller than the calf). My husband mowed quite a bit of it, but the highest our mower can go is 3 inches. There is still an area of tall grass, an area of cut grass, and the area of low grass. There is a multitude of tall grasses (most of which has gone to seed since it was allowed to get so tall) and plenty of weeds growing in that pasture.
He does have a shelter - a lean too shed.
He has adequate water.
My husband wants to raise this Jersey calf for beef as grass fed only.
My husband expected to put him in the pasture, he eats grass (hay in winter), till time comes that he is ready to be processed.
I expect there is more too it than this and am trying to educate myself as best I can for this calf's sake.
My question is...
This little guy was eating grain at his original farm, in an area were there was no grass to be eaten. (There was a field with other cows, but this little guy was in a muddy fenced area near the barn). We just put him in our pasture alone. my questions are...
Should we expect him to just start eating grass and be healthy? Does he need grain at this stage of his life? Does he need something more than we are giving him? Does he need a buddy in the pasture?
Any and all advice is welcome!
This is his 4th day with us. He seems lonely and while I have seen him nibble on the seed heads of grasses, it seems just that... nibbles. Not an amount that I would assume he should be eating. However, i do not know how much he should be eating, if our pasture contains the right types of grasses to provide him the proper nutrients!
We can normally find him laying in his shelter but he does roam and will come up to us and let us pet him. He follows us wherever we go in the pasture and seems not to want us to leave him.
I apologize for being long winded, but thought the more info, the better.
Thank you for your time and help!



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Re: 10 week old calf, new to pasture question

Post by SBMF 2015 » Sun Jun 07, 2020 12:22 pm

Welcome! First off cattle are herd animals. It sounds like you have plenty of room, he needs another calf pal.
Ten wks old is still pretty little. If he was used to eating grain and hay then you should be providing some for him. Young calves learn by mimicking older animals ( usually momma). So if he has never seen grass he hasn't learned to eat it yet.
How long has he been weaned?
Also have you thought about how long it is going to take to grass finish a jersey? I'm not a fan of grass finished beef but I've fed out a lot of beef calves. A Jersey could very easily take 28-36 months to finish and make him worth eating.
I guess my advice at this point would be; buy A second calf, another Jersey that matches this one. Feed them some grain every day and provide a little hay if they want it. When winter comes and you have to start breaking ice. Sell the two calves. Take the check and go buy some grass finished beef with it. If that's your end goal.
You'll gain some hands on knowledge, but not have to go through winter. Next spring you can try it again. Experience takes time, and mistakes are never cheap when it comes to livestock.
Good Luck.
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Re: 10 week old calf, new to pasture question

Post by bird dog » Sun Jun 07, 2020 3:42 pm

SBMF explained it well. Tell your husband that you like some flavor and tenderness in your beef so you think he should be getting some grain. If nothing else it will make him grow quicker and he will be a much better animal for the next owner.

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Re: 10 week old calf, new to pasture question

Post by wbvs58 » Sun Jun 07, 2020 5:12 pm

Welcome to CT, SBMF explained it well, yes he still needs grain and a mate. I think I would stop petting him though if you plan to eat him. Might make it a bit difficult for you.

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Re: 10 week old calf, new to pasture question

Post by Buck Randall » Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:42 pm

He'll need grain until he's 4-6 months old; his stomach won't be fully developed to digest grass properly before then. A local feed dealer can help you out to get what you'll need.

Has he been dehorned? If not, I'd strongly recommend having it done before he gets much bigger. A big steer with horns that wants to play with you is dangerous. If you get it taken care of while he's still a calf it won't bother him too much.

Do you have a vet? I'd recommend finding one and confirming that they're willing to provide service to you before you need it. Nothing worse than having a deathly sick animal on a weekend and not being able to get someone out to see it.

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Re: 10 week old calf, new to pasture question

Post by greggy » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:22 am

Yeah, more to it than sticking a 10 week old on pasture and getting meat 12 months later.

He will be stunted if not feed properly, likely to get sick too if alone and only grass and water.

They normally will drink milk from mum for 7 to 9 months, congrats, your are now both momma, you now need to work out how best to replace that nutrition via your labour 😀

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Re: 10 week old calf, new to pasture question

Post by Dsth » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:37 am

:welcome: I agree with the previous post so far. SBMF has very good advice for you. I have had friends that raise beef tell me that grass fed beef is better than they expected. Not sure what their expectations were, but I tried it once and it seemed dry and not very flavorful. If you keep him, a little corn will add marbling (flavor and tenderness.) Good luck and enjoy your new adventure.

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Re: 10 week old calf, new to pasture question

Post by Rafter S » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:24 am

I wanted to clarify one issue that someone else touched on. Having grass fed beef is okay, but it needs to start with a calf that gets milk from it's dam until it's at least 6 months old. Expecting a calf to produce good beef getting only grass from the age of 10 weeks won't work. That calf may survive on just grass, but just barely.

I won't address the flavor or tenderness of grass fed beef.
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Re: 10 week old calf, new to pasture question

Post by greggy » Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:00 pm

Yep, Rumen, even if working, is not big enough :)

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