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Farm Animal Care

The average life span for cattle is 18 to 22 years, though they can live in excess of 25 years. However, Sanctuary animals who have come from abusive factory farm conditions consequently may have more health problems and a shorter life span. On average, adult male breeds of cattle, such as Angus, Jersey and Hereford (bulls if un-castrated; steers if castrated), weigh between 1,200 and 1,800 pounds. Larger breeds, such as Brahman, Brangus, Charolais, and Holstein males, can actually weigh 2,000 to 2,800 pounds. Adult females (cows) weigh between 1,100 and 1,500 pounds, but larger breeds like Charolais can weigh closer to 2,000 pounds. The normal body temperature for cattle is between 101° F and 102° F.

Nutritional Needs
Water - Clean, fresh water must always be available to your cattle. A mature animal will generally consume between 10 and 20 gallons a day, so be sure to use a container large enough to hold that quantity. Water needs increase with hot weather. We recommend investing in an automatic watering system (available through farm supply stores or the catalogs below), as it will
greatly reduce water waste.
Salt and Minerals - Salt should always be available to your cattle. Salt blocks and specially designed holders for them can be purchased at most feed stores. If you are in an area that has selenium-deficient soil, a salt block with selenium is recommended. Also, trace mineral blocks are available and, depending upon the soil in the region where you live, may be recommended.
Feed - Cattle are ruminants (animals with stomachs that have four chambers) and, consequently, rely mainly on hay or pasture for their dietary needs. Grain is very high in energy and, therefore, we do not recommend its use for healthy cattle. Feed required for maintenance is approximately 2 percent of the animal's body weight in dry matter/hay per day.
Pasture - Pasture should be of good quality and plentiful, as it provides the bulk of your cattle's dietary needs. Before pasturing, be sure to remove all plants that are poisonous to cattle. Contact your County Agriculture Extension Agent for a complete listing of poisonous plants in your area. If adequate pasture is not available, you will need to supplement with hay. Adult cattle need two pounds of hay per 100 pounds of body weight daily. Alfalfa hay is very high in protein and should only be used for sick or debilitated animals. To avoid hay waste, we suggest the use of a hay feeder. If feeding your cattle outdoors, place hay under cover to prevent wet feed — a costly and unhealthy problem. To locate a source of hay in your area, check with your County Agriculture Extension Agent for a listing of hay/straw auctions or in the farming section of your local paper. It is less expensive per bale if you can buy in large quantity; therefore, it is well worth the investment to build some type of hay storage building or loft. If you have multiple cattle, it is also a better investment to use round bale hay, which requires the use of a tractor for feeding.

Cattle are relatively easy to halter train, and we recommend the use of a rope halter, available through farm supply stores or catalogs. By brushing your cattle and running your hands over their bodies and legs, you will accustom them to being haltered and touched, leading to less stressful handling in the future. Be careful when working around cattle. Although cattle are not usually aggressive, they are very strong and can injure you by their normal range of motion (such as swinging their head to the side to swat at flies). You should always be aware of where they are stepping so they don't accidentally crush your feet. Cattle can feel threatened when confined, and some do kick. Always be very aware of your location when around cattle, never getting between a frightened cow and
a wall or gate. Generally, you will not need to use cattle chutes for restraint, and can use a gate instead. If you would like further information on handling, see our shelter website. One of the most important ways to keep yourself and your animals safe is to know each individual animal, and to know how they react in stressful situations. Cattle that have been through traumatic experiences can be harder to work with, and may require the assistance of a veterinarian or someone who is professionally trained to handle them.

Shelter Requirements
Building - Cattle shelters do not need to be elaborate, but must be waterproof. Depending on the climate in your location, you may only need a three-sided structure with the open side facing away from the prevailing winds. If you have a totally enclosed barn, be sure it is well ventilated. This is extremely important for both hot and cold weather. If the barn is much over 50° F in the cold weather, humidity from urine, manure and body moisture may rise and can cause pneumonia. Allow at least 35 to 40-square-feet for each animal. Always provide your cattle with plenty of clean, dry straw for bedding. Remove damp and soiled straw daily, replacing it with fresh straw. Spreading lime (be sure to use hydrate lime, not feed lime) on wet areas before laying down fresh straw will help absorb moisture and prevent spread of bacteria. If your barn has a cement floor rather than dirt, provide extra bedding during the winter months.
Fencing - Sturdy fencing and secure gates are a must for cattle. There are a variety of fences; woven wire, wood, electric, and barbed wire. Prices vary greatly, so shop around. Electrical or woven wire (or a combination of the two) is generally the most practical. Barbed wire provides adequate fencing; however, it can lead to injuries if your cattle attempt to break through the fence. Fencing should be strung taut, eight to ten feet between posts, and approximately four-feet high.
Pasture - We recommend five to ten acres of land per cow. This may vary depending on pasture quality, weather and seasonal
factors, as well as the amount of hay you are feeding. If you have a large number of cattle, you will want more than one pasture so that the cattle can rotate between the two, allowing each to regenerate.

Health Care
Maintenance - Every five to six weeks, cattle should get a routine, individual health check and have some basic health care
procedures done. These include: Cleaning ears; checking and trimming hooves (see below); feeling the whole body (depending on the temperament of the animal) for lumps and bumps; checking udders of females for hardness, swelling, heat, and discharge; brushing; and examining eyes and third eyelid for any lumps, injury or discharge. Cattle are relatively easy to take care of, and sanitary
housing, good quality pasture, nutritious food, and plenty of sunshine will help to reduce health problems.
Hoof Trimming - Proper hoof care is important; your veterinarian can examine your cattle's hooves to determine if they need
trimming. To avoid injury to the cattle and yourself, annual hoof trimming should always be performed by a professional. Hoof
trimming should be done annually, and maintenance trimming may need to be done in between.
Vaccines - Cattle need to be vaccinated yearly for rabies and several other contagious diseases. Consult your veterinarian for advice on vaccinating your cattle, since different regions require different vaccines.

Common Health Problems
Bloat/Grain Poisoning - This is a serious condition commonly caused by overeating grain or lush, high-quality pastures. Make sure feed barrels and feedbags are completely inaccessible, and slowly adjust cattle to new pasture by bringing them some of the pasture for a few days. Then, turn them out for only a few hours at a time. The first obvious symptoms of bloat are distension of the rumen (the area beside the hip bone of the left side), labored breathing and signs of discomfort, such as kicking, grinding teeth, groaning, bawling, and profuse salivation. Any evidence of bloat should be deemed an emergency and your vet should be contacted immediately.
Foot Rot - Foot rot is a bacterial infection of the hoof. One or more hooves can be infected at any time. The first symptom of foot rot is usually lameness (limping). Check the hoof for signs of swelling, heat, redness, or pus, and consult your veterinarian for treatment. The risk of foot rot is greatly minimized by proper hoof care. Muddy areas in pasture and rough walk areas can contribute to hoof damage and should, therefore, be avoided. Unclean feed areas, or cement areas with a buildup of feces and urine (called slurry), can greatly increase the incidence of hoof infections and foot rot.
Respiratory Problems - Coughing, nasal discharge, watery eyes, sneezing, lethargy, and loss of appetite are all possible symptoms of a respiratory infection. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms.
Johne's Disease - Johne's disease is a chronic bacterial infection, which primarily affects the lower small intestine of ruminants (cattle, goats, sheep, llamas, deer, and bison). Clinical signs include weight loss and diarrhea with a normal appetite. Johne's disease signs are rarely evident until two to six years after initial infection, which usually occurs at birth. There is no treatment for Johne's disease by use of conventional medicine. However, you may prolong life by the use of homeopathic medicine, and you will want to consult a licensed homeopathic veterinarian. The disease is contagious, so animals showing symptoms should be isolated. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you suspect Johne's disease.
Eye Cancer - In a sanctuary environment, you are more likely to deal with older cattle and, therefore, deal with diseases that affect this age group. One is eye cancer, particularly squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell tumors are most common in breeds with white hair or light skin pigmentation, and may be caused by exposure to sunlight or genetics. Most squamous cell carcinomas are solitary lesions and, if caught quickly, can be treated. Squamous cell tumors can metastasize and are rapid-growing. The lesions arise on the actual eyeball, but also develop on the third eyelid. Checking your cattle's eyes regularly for any changes is an important part in keeping them healthy.
Eye Infections - Check your cattle daily for signs of eye infections. Symptoms include discolored or cloudy eyes, unusual discharges and swelling. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you find signs of an eye infection.
Parasites - Good sanitation will greatly reduce parasite problems, but you should still have your cattle checked regularly. Fecal tests should be done every three months, and cattle treated according to the results. Cattle should be treated every season to control grubs, caused by heel flies, even if there are no parasites in their feces. The flies attach their eggs to the legs of the cattle in late spring or early summer, and should be treated as soon as possible after heel fly season. Ivermectin is commonly used and is available in both pour-on solutions and in an injectable form. If you choose to use an injectable, always have your veterinarian show you how to administer it before undertaking this procedure.
Mastitis - Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary glands, caused by bacteria. Acute mastitis symptoms include an elevated temperature and a hot, hard, swollen udder. Your cow's udder will probably be very sore. This is generally only a problem with cows that have been lactating, but even cows who are not lactating can still be susceptible. Seek veterinary advice if you notice any of the above symptoms, since treatment with antibiotics is essential.

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