Cattle prices are where I wish they were when we had a nice herd. Of course not, lol. We sold off our cattle, with the exception of one old pet, and we’re hoping to build another herd over time. Bought a Hereford cross heifer last year that may work out well. She and our old cow are hopefully settled now after a visit from a bull.
All this is for beef way down the road. We were hoping to put something in the freezer next year. Hence, bargain basement 4 month old calf.
For those that aren’t familiar, calf prices get pretty steep once they start gaining and filling out. This little steer was cheaper because he was thin (bad sign) and small. But, I raised my own cattle for 15 years. I know cattle, right? Nope. I know well-cared for cattle. Bargain calves are a different story.
I bought the calf Monday afternoon. He came, not from a cattle person, but from a wannabe cow poke who was selling off his summer roping toys. Poor little calf has been jerked off his feet who knows how many times. I looked him over. No obvious broken bones from roping. Neck looks alright. Thin and stressed, but okay. Wannabe cowboy tells me he fed him up to full grain (alarm went off…a small 4 month old fed like a feedlot steer?!). Then he tells me there was a bloating issue (ya think?!). I look again. Calf looks stable so he must have been treated for bloat. No grain in his pen. Guy says he’s on hay but could get a pound of grain twice a day without an issue. I shrugged it off (second mistake). I’ve dealt with cows getting in the feed room bloat before with a baking soda slurry.
No, my current self wishes to tell my past self, a little acidosis bloat from a one time event is far different from over feeding a very young animal grain without the requisite knowledge and systematically destroying their rumen.
Yeah, nice little tidbit of info I should’ve known but didn’t.
As we were loading the calf, he chomps down some grain from another pen. Should be alright. Guy said he could get some grain. Got him home and settled in. Three hours later, he’s bloating. Treated him with the baking soda slurry and got a few eruptations. He gets a little better and then the gas builds again. Bargain calf gets an emergency vet visit. Tubing to remove the gas, rumen treatments, antibiotics for pneumonia (I should’ve known a stressed, thin calf likely had pneumonia). Bargain calf isn’t such a bargain anymore. Now I understand the systematic destruction that happens to that most amazing rumen when a moron wannabe cowpoke think they know a thing or two about cattle ‘cause they can swing a rope.
Since then, “Pete” has done well on hay. I give him some grass a couple times a day. Time is the only thing that will heal up his gut. I will slowly introduce alfalfa to help him gain weight, once he’s stable.
This morning, he had a mild bloat, so I pulled out the flexible tubing and pvc section and off gassed him again. This might need to be done a few times a week until he gets better. Luckily, we prefer grass fed cattle anyway.
So, in short, beware the bargain calf. You’re not safe if they’re on feed and hay. Idiots abound and pushing too much grain will throw the calf into a downward spiral.
Also, wannabe cowpokes suck.