Once you’ve done your research on the breed of cow that you want for your homestead based on the reason, you’re getting a cow such as for milk, meat or to raise additional animals to sell, you need to examine your property and be sure that you’re ready to welcome your cow to your homestead. Keep in mind that like people cattle have different temperaments, and you need to choose the one that is best for you. Depending on where you’re buying her, it can also be difficult at times to truly access a temperament since a cow that is at auction might act differently from when you get her home in a calmer environment, and she has time to get to know you.
How To Introduce A Cow To Your Homestead?
You’re considering introducing a cow to your homestead but are you really prepared for this task. Like owning any animal, there are many things to think about before you take on this important responsibility. This is not a decision to be rushed into. Depending on the reason you have chosen to get a cow or more than one for your homestead, you may have it for many years and therefore you want it to be a pleasant experience for both you and your new bovine companion.
You cannot just allow your cow to roam free on your homestead. There are too many risks to doing this including predators, injuries, not having adequate food, water, or shelter. Therefore, you need to prepare an enclosure for your cow. She should also have a shelter, if possible, that can keep her protected from the elements. The requirements for your shelter will be dependent on the weather where you live. Make sure that your enclosure is secure and that your cow isn’t going to be able to jump over or push through it. Depending on the materials you use such as boards or wire, you may want to consider adding electricity to the wires to keep your cow from approaching the fence. You should also be aware that some cattle are much more likely to jump a fence than others. Cows are also herd animals and while they can live alone, having a companion for your cow especially if she’s always had one, could be a good idea.
You may need to build several enclosures over time in order to move your cow from pasture to pasture to create a grazing rotation because likely one enclosure will not provide her with enough grass for a season. You may also have to make or buy bales of hay for your cow to eat in seasons when grazing isn’t possible, such as the winter in some areas due to the snow. Your cows will likely also require some supplements such as mineral and salt that come in either powder or block form. Consider where you’ll be providing your cow her supplements before making your decision. For example, if it is going to be outside, there are some options which work better than others. Someone at your feed store if you have one in the area can likely advise you on what you need or there are many resources for this on the internet as well. Your cow may also need grain. Grain also works nicely as a treat or a means of getting the cow to approach you.
Cows require a large amount of water each day. It is therefore important to consider where your cow’s water is going to come from. Is there a natural source of water for your cow or will you have to bring it to her each day. Carrying enough water for a cow is possible but very difficult. Therefore, you may want to look at options for water bowls that can be set up to give your cow the water she needs. If you are hand watering your cow, you also need to determine the best trough. For example, a pail is a bad idea as your cow might get her head stuck in it, or not be able to reach the water at the bottom. You also want to be sure that your cow cannot contaminate their water source for example, by walking in it and stirring up mud etc. Some water sources also dry up in hot water or freeze in cold temperatures, therefore you need to be vigilant about changing conditions.
Some homesteaders choose to have other animals in the same enclosure as their cows. Depending on the temperaments of all animals involved, this may or make not work well. Therefore, you should never just put the animals together. You need to be around to watch their initial interactions and be sure that they are not going to fight together. As a human friend to your cow, you also need to know the best way to approach her and to be able to read the signs regarding her attitude and whether it is safe to approach or not. This can also help keep you safe. If your animals are fighting, you should not get in the middle of their fight but attempt to separate them in another way, perhaps by distracting them with food.
You also need to ensure that they receive the necessary veterinary care each year such as treatments for ticks and lice, vaccinations, and hoof trimming. Some cows’ needs will vary depending on the breed and your purpose for having them. With proper research and contemplation, you can make the introduction of a cow to your homestead a positive experience. Here are a few products and resources that can help you on your homestead. However, you must do your due diligence to be sure that they fit the needs of your homestead.
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