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Due to the length of their horns in contrast to other breeds, handling "untrained" (non-halter broke) Texas Longhorns is often easier when special facilities are available. Some owners will simply just squeeze them between 2 gates or panels with the horns projecting over or through the rails. This is easily do-able with halter trained Cattle. However, with untrained cattle, this requires additional manual labor and isn't the the safest way to proceed. Generally, if you plan on having Longhorns, it is best to invest in a proper squeeze chute made specifically for Texas Longhorns. These have 2 squeeze arms that swing in and out. They are safe for cattle & handlers while being quick and easy to use. Plus, the exceptionally best one on the market has a door that the cow enters through from an added sweep or pen. One person can thus work their cattle alone. You can also A.I., palpate & preg check easily in this type of facility. It is best not to purchase a LH chute that is of flimsy metal but one that is heavy pipe and substantial. Plus, it will actually appreciate in value if you should need to sell it. Yet, a well thought out facility will serve you well & you'll be glad you have it for years to come.
How To Help Insure First Calf Rebreeding Success
Have your heifers at a Body Condition of at least 5, ideally 6 1/2: As body condition score increases the percentage of cows cycling increases in a linear fashion. A Kansas data report stated that there was an 18% increase in cycling
for every 1 full condition score improvement. The percentage of first calf two-year-olds cycling was about 10% less than mature cows that were having at least their second calf. Thus, many producers choose to breed replacement heifers ahead of the cow herd and therefore give them more days before the breeding season begins than for mature cows. Two-year-olds have extra nutrient requirements for their own growth while also nursing a calf. This clearly influences the cycling activity at the beginning of the breeding season. Also consider, two-year-olds are in the stage of life where the baby teeth are being replaced by permanent teeth. Some of these young cows have problems consuming roughage similar to “broken-mouth” older cows. Cycling activity is also influenced by the number of days since calving. For every 10 day interval since calving (from less than 50 days to 70 days) the percentage cycling increased by 7.5%. The best breeding opportunity is the 63rd day after calving.
Precondition physically by providing creepfeed & have calves used to drinking water prior to weaning. Calves can start to eat creepfeed by one month of age. If possible, administer first round of calfhood vaccinations/deworm prior to weaning. Healthy calves endure stress better and likelihood of illness is reduced. Separate calves & cows by a secure/safe fence preferably electric where they can readily continue to see one another thus reducing their anxiety. Retain calves in a familiar environment preferably on pasture. Expect all to bawl quite loudly at times, so be sure to notify any close neighbors that all is well & that this will subside in a few days. Keep cow & calves separated a minimum of one month, longer with first time mothers. From now on, keep heifers separated from bullcalves to prevent premature breeding.
Know your cattle. Then, quickly, you will recognize if something is out of the
ordinary. Then, investigate further if it is.
Notice the consistency of the cows' manure. If it is too loose, she may be
getting feed/hay that is too rich or has too much protein. If the manure is
watery, this may be serious & you had best address her condition promptly.
Often, this is indicative of internal parasites.
Get and have handy an ordinary Digital Thermometer from the drug store.
Normal temp for a cow is 100-102. Fever is often the first sign of a problem &
if called, the first thing your vet will inquire about.
Along w/ fever, other signs of concern may include loss of appetite, cough,
mucous discharge, lackluster eyes, depression and losing weight for no obvious
Be prepared. Know a good large animal vet who knows cattle. Unless you have
a halterbroke animal, it is to your advantage to have a good working facility to
make your vet want to come in the first place. Thus, making it easy for your vet
to examine your cow safely. Otherwise, you may have to take a sick animal to
their facility and they may not be geared up for long-horned cattle.
Happily, you've chosen Texas Longhorns, a disease resistant & hardy breed...
BE the successful cattleman -one who recognizes the value of practical wisdom!
MAGNETS: Longhorns like to eat, seem to do so on cruise control and can easily ingest
foreign matter, like bits of metal (wire,screws, etc) found in the pasture or hay and believe it
or not, even in their feed.. Many a favorite & valuable bovine has tragically died prematurely,
& unnecessarily due to "Hardware Disease", including one legendary sire. You can prevent
this from happening by giving each cow an inexpensive 1/2"x3" cattle Magnet, inserted at
the back of the tongue w/ a balling gun. Available at the feed store for a few dollars each, it
looks like a silver bullet.The calf must be old enough (about one year old) for the rumen to
be fully developed. One magnet will last a lifetime.
ROUND BALE RINGS: For most breeds, open tubular Rings work fine-But Not
Longhorns! If they can get their head through the rails, they can easily get their horns
hungup. Open rings are suitable Only for weanlings. For all others use SOLID wall
construction designed hayrings. Owning Longhorns is exciting but the excitement of
seeing your best cow or bull running hurt & confused through a fence with its head
entangled dragging a hay ring possibly breaking a horn or worse-we can do without!
We're not saying it will happen next week or next month but it will happen with open
this wise advice.
PERIMETER FENCING: Good fences not only make good neighbors but keep your
Longhorns safe. Where possible, use woven field fence to the ground with a hotwire over
top-to keep the critters out and your cattle in. In rural areas, Coyotes hunt in packs, Big
Cats range along rivers & will try to kill your calves for dinner. Longhorn Moms are
protective. In suburbia, they will want to "eliminate" the neighbor's dogs who get in the
pasture and think its fun to chase & terrorize their babies.
BALING STRING: Hay bales usually come wrapped in either plastic netting or plastic
string also wire. It keeps your bales securely contained till ready to be consumed.
However, it is important that extreme care be taken that ALL the string/ netting be
completely removed, not just from the bale but from the entire area that cattle have
access to before ever exposing your cattle to the bale. String carelessly left either are the
ground or concealed in the midst of the hay is easily consumed. You may find old partially
chewed string or even plastic bags blown around your pasture. More than a few cows and
calves have become seriously ill or even died unnecessarily from ingesting foreign matter,
something that could have been very easily prevented along with the unscheduled vet bill.
Start as young as possible. If she's already several months old, halter her if possible first in the chute or a small confined safe area then expand your training area as you progress. Do the same when introducing tying. We never leave the halter on but take it off after each lesson, this too is part of their training. Then, later on you‘ll be able to go up to her in the middle of the pasture and she’ll have learned to just stand there quietly to be haltered.
Avoid pulling, instead use the give & take method. Reinforce positive behavior with praise. In early training lessons, when teaching to tie, we use a slip tie where when the calf pulls back on her halter, the lead rope will slip and give and lengthen out. This teaches the calf not to lean against the rope or fight or panic but rather to yield to pressure. (This is safer) When the calf pulls back, shorten the length again and coax the calf to move forward and give to gentle give and take tugs. Teach her to put HER head into the halter for you. Tie the calf at her eye level, not too short, not too long. Monitor the calf whenever tied in case she swings around or gets a foot or horn over the lead rope. Always tie to something that will not break like a post or pipe fence. It is better to train a calf this way because very soon, she'll be way too strong for you to pull and if she starts pulling you, you lose control. Progressively lengthen the amount of time tied. Teach her to wait for you. We've found it's better not to use rope calf halters, instead use a 3/4 inch web-type foal-size halter -it doesn't tighten on the calf's head if she pulls on it. An older calf fits a pony size halter. The only variable is that a calf's head will be a little shorter than a pony/colt and the calf will be thicker through the throatlatch area. Keep lessons short like 15 minutes a day. End on a happy note. With proper training, she'll get lighter and lighter and more responsive just like a well-trained horse. Once taught, your calf will never forget so be sure the things she learns from you are always good, pleasant & desirable. Taking fear out of the equation makes for a safer animal. This works for us!
Answer: Because older and younger cattle are not as aggressive as cattle in
their prime. These are the ones pushed away from hay and cubes, often
do not get their fair share & are easily overlooked. This can adversely
affect their health and well-being.
Put your elderly cows in with the weanling/yearlings heifers . They'll feel more
secure with an adult and in turn she will not feel intimidated by them.
In cold weather make sure they do not become dehydrated- Ice water is not
appealing to drink in freezing weather. Providing warm water can go a long way,
encourage drinking and even save a life.
Be aware of any problem with teeth that may impede their consuming sufficient amounts of food even though it is readily available.
Keep an eye out for depression, changes in manure consistency and provide a
dry place out of the wind.
Texas Longhorn mamas can produce calves well into their 20's and often
have the longest & most beautiful horns. Your younger cows are on their way to
getting there. All deserve your good care and attention to their special needs.
Why Address the 'Special Needs' of Younger & Older Cattle?
NEVER allow anyone to use an electric prod on your cattle, instead use a sorting stick, rattle or your own presence & voice to guide them. Daily feed your individual cow or small group of 4 or less calves in the sweep/chute area for a week or two & let them out promptly after each meal to condition them to think how pleasant the chute can be. With untrained cattle especially, speak softly, avoid quick movements and go slow. It's faster and safer. Decline assistance from anyone who is loud, rough or impatient. Position your chute with doors swung /secured wide open, so cattle may daily walk through freely as they regularly go from one area to another for pasture and water. Be a LEADER not a PREDATOR and your Texas Longhorns will follow you anywhere.
How To Help Your Cattle Overcome Chute Shyness
7 Things To Consider About Branding Your Calves
Freeze branding is more legible throughout the year than a hot brand
Freeze branding is virtually painless and does not result in sores or fly problems.
Since the calves are less stressed so too the stress level of the handlers is greatly reduced.
You can brand a white calf just as well as a dark-colored calf. On a white calf the
brand will look bald as does a fire brand. On a colored calf the freeze brand will
The resulting clarity of the freeze brand is far superior to a fire brand
resulting in a crisp, sharp brand with no blotching.
Freeze branding does require preparation, slightly more time and the brand site
hair to be clipped w/preferably size 40 blades.
Freeze branding is the modern & superior way to go...The improved results and low stress are worth the small amount of extra effort. * Plus, Fire Branding has been know
to cause Cancer.
The Care & Feeding of Texas Longhorns
How to Implement Proper Nutrition
Texas Longhorn Handling Recommendations
Understanding Health Care Basics
How to Implement "Less Stress" Weaning
How To Use "The Flight Zone" To Move Your Cattle
note: The following article was reprinted from the
January 2008 TLMA Texas Longhorn Journal:
Longhorn Basics 101 by DeeDee Strauss
Four Important Ways To Protect Your Longhorns
All Registered Texas Longhorns originate from 7 families: Phillips, Butler, Wright, Peeler, Wichita Refuge,Yates, & Marks. Today most prominent are the "Butler" and "Non-Butler" (derived from the rest of the families) and "Blended", a blend of these two types. Straight Butler cattle are known for exceptional horn length but tend to be small from intensive line breeding. Non-Butler (often most influenced by Phillips, Wright & WR) are desirable for their size and conformation. Blended herds strive to preserve the best qualities of both strains projecting a "Total Package" comprised of horn, size, conformation, color, disposition, hybrid vigor along w/mothering abilities. For example, Premier Longhorns is a blended herd. Horns can be lateral, attaining to the most Tip to Tip measurement and bringing the highest prices. Horns can also
dramatically turn upward commonly called fighting horns. Some horns corkscrew doing a double, even triple twist. Some Longhorn Cattlemen even expressing a concern that high prices for lateral horn may in time diminish the prevalence of double twist-the traditional look found in a Frederick Remington western work of art. Whatever your Longhorns look like, you can be sure that each one, yes, even the clones are unique and a True American Original!
Understanding Long "Horn" Basics
You will find that Texas Longhorns are easy to take care of... especially so, if you have ever owned high-maintenance horses in the past. Texas Longhorns are a low
maintenance animal. In fact with little attention, beyond their basic needs having
been met, they have been known to take very good care of themselves. Some large
breeders even prefering to let their Longhorns live in a somewhat primitive environment with noticably little difference in conditions from what these hardy cattle have lived in for centuries. These ranchers insure a clean water source and
sufficient forage-usually just native grasses along with basic preventive healthcare.
These Longhorns prove the claim of their thriftiness, hardiness and strong survival
instincts developed over the many centuries.
However, often today, we find a changing environment. With superior genetics, increasing demand and higher value along with smaller acreages, many owners are
giving their Texas Longhorns greater attention in order that they may as individuals
meet their fullest potential and value. Whether you see your Texas Longhorn as an
investment, a beloved pet or simply something majestic to adorn your pasture, you
will certainly want to take proper care of what you've got.
Here at Premier Longhorns, care begins before the calf is born.The mother cow is provided access to a high quality complete Mineral Program. Statistics show that soil thus forage quality,can vary tremendously in different areas. Therefore, we have found that proper mineral supplementation is a necessity for good growth and good health. Loose minerals are best as they are easily consumed at free choice-usually 2 to 4 ounces daily. Solid RED blocks are NOT the best choice. While white salt blocks are a necessity, the traditional red mineral blocks are best avoided entirely since your cattle are most likely to develop deficiencies. Even something as seemingly unlikely as trace amounts of sufficient copper intake will impact your Longhorn's coat condition,with spots, color and shine noticably and beautifully intensifying with correct consumption. Furthermore, proper minerals are necessary for strong horn growth and efficient reproductive health later on. Also, since there is no perfect soil, it is a good idea to have your local County Extension Service agent do a simple and inexpensive test to determine the quality of your soil and pasture. It is good to know for sure rather than guessing about the true mineral and protein content of your forage. Often, soil additives can easily and greatly improve what your cattle consume and thus improve your herd health in general. However, a good mineral supplement will always be a part of a healthy bovine nutritional program.
Forage is the largest single food stuff to consider. A mature cow will consume 26 pounds of hay or grass a day with yearling heifers and steers eating an average of 17 pounds daily. While protein content of forage will vary with season and growing
conditions, usually 8% protein will be adequate. However, energy requirements of a
cow will change during trimesters of pregnancy, lactation activity and periods of growth and during very cold and/or damp weather conditions. During these "special
needs" periods, you may choose to supplement your cows' diet with 20% protein cattle cubes and/or Protein Lick Tub in order to maintain or increase body weight. As the cow will require more dry matter to process that protein, she thus will be consuming more food and gaining /maintaining weight, producing milk and/or producing internal heat during winter stress. The extra protein will also enable her to utilize the available forage more efficiently. Some cattlemen will use cracked corn as an energy supplement. But only in small amounts as it can cause stomach upset. Or in the case of a growing Riding Steer, his special needs may need to be addressed.
How would you know if the grass alone was sufficient or if an energy and/or protein
Supplementation is needed? And, if it is needed, how much should you feed? "Body Condition Scoring" is helpful here. You can rate your Longhorn's body condition on a scale of One to Nine. One is most poor and Nine is obese. Pregnant cows should be at 5 1/2 to 6 just before calving as this extra weight will go into milk production for the calf. A mature Riding Steer should have a BCS of 5. This is not representative of the animal's total weight but rather of a proper weight-to-frame ratio. One body score is equal to 100 pounds body weight. A "first-calf-heifer" should have an additional 1/2 body score at calving to compensate for her owngrowth. If you are not sure how to grade your Longhorn's BCS, that's okay. Simplycontact your local County Extension Service and they will be happy to assist you. Take advantage of whatever help is available to you. Never allow your Texas Longhorn to get very fat or very thin. As for cows, they may not as readily rebreed. As regards, your Riding Steer he need not pack unnecessary extra weight as do feeder cattle meant for slaughter. In contrast to terminal cattle, Riding Steers are companion animals. You are feeding him for a long lifetime of good health and he can easily live in to his 20's.
While Texas Longhorn reproductive capacity and efficiency is legendary and predictably superior to that of European breeds, they are still cattle and must receive
a nutritionally adequate diet. We've all heard the folklore that Texas Longhorns can
survive on a diet of barbwire and cactus. They may survive on a poor diet but no
animal will thrive on a poor diet. From Oklahoma State University comes a wonderful
tool for calculating the precise nutritional requirements of your cattle. Developed by
OSU Professor of Animal Sciences Dr. David Lalman, PhD, it is called "Cowculator".
You can down load it for free from OSU. -and by using it you will remove all the mystery and guesswork from your feeding program.
Proper nutrition includes clean fresh Water and lots of it. This can not be over emphasized. Longhorn Cattle are ruminants and sufficient clean water is necessary
for them to properly utilize their foodstuffs. They will drink from ponds and streams.
However, if you keep just a steer or two in your backyard (herd animals need a
buddy!) you will still need to insure they always have access to adequate clean
drinking water. This helps maintain body temperature and the proper function of the rumen. Dirty water can be a breeding ground for disease in cattle of all ages. However, in reference to growing calves, this is of greater importance. Particularly in summer heat, this is of critical concern. An 800 lb yearling steer or heifer that might normally daily drink 9 gallons at temperature of 60 degrees, will drink up to 16 or more gallons of water in summer heat of 90 degrees. Along with shade, be sure your Longhorns have access to all the fresh clean drinking water they want.
Regular Deworming will help insure that all the good groceries you pay for and your cows consume will actually go to the intended purpose: good health and reproductivity. It is advisable to set out a definite Internal Parasite Control program with your veterinarian to compliment your specific circumstances. We customarily deworm 3 times a year. Although, mature cattle will often build resistance to internal parasites. However, it is vital to remember to rotate on an annual basis not only the brand of worming medicine but more importantly, rotate the class of medicine. Our program is as follows: Here in Oklahoma, after first hard freeze, deworm with injectable to treat a wide spectrum of parasites including river flukes. Early spring, pour-on topical dewormer and again 4 to 6 weeks later. (Then again in late August if very wet conditions exist; if in a drought, this step is not necessary) We treat all young calves at @ about 4 months of age when receiving first round of calfhood vaccinations. Deworming is especially important for replacement heifers, sire prospects and steer prospects as young stock are most vulnerable and you want to lay for them a foundation for a long lifetime of good health.
We have had excellent success in External Parasite Control with a season-long
feed-through additive in our loose minerals. IGR is an insect growth regulator than
prevents horn flies from progressing to maturity and so drasticly and significantly
cuts down adult horn fly population. However, late summer/early fall will sometimes
see a spurt and that is easily controlled with a topical pour-on repellant.
Whether it be your beautiful Longhorn Cow, Bull or Riding Steer, their diet and care need not be the result of some wild guess or a stab in the dark. Their nutritional
needs are easily met. A little common sense and accurate knowledge along with an
easy to maintain and simple recordkeeping system will go a long way. Provide them
with a proper diet and capable care and your Riding Steer will provide you with a
lifetime of affection and loving companionship and your Longhorn Cows and Bulls
with many beautiful calves for many years to come.
From The Oklahoma State University Master Cattleman Program,
How To Halter & Tie Train Your Calf
REI Bovine Reproduction School & the Shared Voice of Experience
Specializing In Elite Seed Stock & Trained Riding Steers
A flight zone is a cow's personal space. When you penetrate the Flight Zone, the animal will move, when you retreat from it she will stop moving. The size of a FZ will depend on her fearful or docile nature and/or the extent she has been trained, the angle of your approach and the cow's state of excitement. The FZ radius can range from zero feet for a trained riding steer to as much as 300 feet for range cattle. If you are within her FZ, the cow will move away from you. Handlers should work cattle at the edge of the FZ at a 45 to 60 degree angle behind the animal's shoulder. When moving your cattle, avoid approaching them directly. Try to work them close to the Point of Balance, moving back and forth on the line parallel to the direction you want them to go.
Specializing In Elite Genetics & Trained Riding Steers