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Posts Tagged ‘kelp meal’

Weaning Time Again

Thursday, October 1st, 2009


Cross Creek Cattle Company is in the process of weaning 10 calves right now.  My mom surprised me by visiting the ranch.  Her house is very close to the barn where we separate the calves from the mama cows.  She got to enjoy the endless ballads that the calves sang to their mamas and the mamas sang to their calves.  Needless to say, she did not sleep very well the first night of weaning.

It has been a couple of days now and the serenade has stopped.  The mama cows have left their calves and rejoined the herd grazing in the bottom.  The calves are adjusting to their new no-dairy diet.

Weaning time is a stressful time for both the cow and her calf.  At Cross Creek Cattle Company we try to eliminate as much stress as possible.  A stout pipe fence with cattle panel welded to it separate the calves from the cows.  The cows can see, smell, and speak to one another.  The calves just cannot nurse.

The calves are enjoying eating grass, which they have done for months.  They just are not supplementing their diets with milk anymore.  To help maintain their body condition during this time of adjustment, we feed them a very small daily ration of alfalfa pellets.  Alfalfa is very high in protein grass.  We start the calves on a small ration and slowly build up their daily allowance of the dehydrated grass to prevent bloat.  Cows can bloat on alfalfa because it is so rich.

The calves also have their own mixture of kelp meal, stock salt, and diatomaceous earth.  We continue to allow them to freely partake of this mineral supplement and natural de-wormer.  It is self-limiting.  They can only take what their body needs.  Of course, we supply the calves with fresh clean water and hay.

Soon we will be able to return these calves back to the herd.  Their mothers will welcome them back as adolescents; however, they will not be allowed to nurse.  The cows’ milk supply will have dried up.  There will always be one calf in the bunch who tries to resume nursing, but it is quickly kicked away.  Calves will be calves.

Weaning time means that we decide how the calves are going to work for us.  We will determine if we have any show heifers.  We will sell some to other ranchers.  We have some that we will keep to build up our herd.  Of course, we also have our grass fed beef business.  If you are interested in ordering delicious and nutritious grass fed beef, contact me at or call (936)870-5792.

Ready for Winter

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
Our Snowman

Our Snowman

Yes, I know that it is the beginning of September and that autumn has not come yet.  As ranchers, we cannot afford to wait until freezing temperatures arrive before getting ready for winter.   We are blessed to be living in Southeast Texas where the winters are relatively mild.  We do not have to contend with a lot of winter precipitation.  We hardly ever get sleet or freezing rain; it is even more rare to get snow.  Last year we actually received some snow and we were so excited.  We ran outside late at night just to play in it because we knew that it would all be gone in the morning.

Our winter generally consists of some freezing nights.  We seldom get a hard freeze.  The air is almost always humid, which makes the cold air seem much colder than it is.  The coldness is magnified by a stiff, north breeze.  Grass stops growing and goes dormant under nighttime temperatures below 70 degrees.  Our night temperatures should fall below that in the next month.  Therefore, we have to store up food for the cattle to eat to keep up their condition during the winter.

To help protect the cows from the north wind and cold, we make sure that they are on a pasture with a wind break.  The trees in the woods break the wind.  In addition, so does the dam of our lake.  The cows on instinct alone search out the warmest places to sleep.  Depending on the pasture, they naturally seek the woods or behind the dam.  We never leave them on a pasture without a wind break of some kind.

Since we raise grass fed beef, we do not supplement our cow’s diet with range cubes or grain.  Our cows keep their good body conditions on hay.  My husband puts out round bales of hay for our herd.  Cows know what they need.  Sometimes they devour the bale and other times they just nibble.  Good quality hay is a must for a rancher in any climate here in the United States.

The cows will continue to get their supplemental minerals throughout the winter.  Most cows are bred at this time and will be calving in the late winter and early spring.  Their nutrition is very important to us.  We feed them a mixture of kelp meal and salt.  We add diatomaceous earth for other health reasons.  You can read about those in the article “Diatomaceous Earth?”  This combination is loose in a mineral feeder and given to the cows as free choice.  It is self-limiting.  They will only eat as much as they need.

Water is essential in any season.  Occasionally on really cold nights, we have to break the ice off the surface of the watering troughs.  Our ponds and lake have never frozen over so we are not concerned about them.  The temperature only gets cold enough to freeze over above-ground water troughs every once in a while.

Rows of square bales we hauled out of the pasture.

Rows of square bales we hauled out of the pasture.

So right now, we are ensuring that we have enough bales of hay to make it through the winter.  We have round and square bales this year.  Although, the square bales are mainly for the horses.  They need hay in the winter too.

Even though it is still summer, we are looking forward to the change in weather.  From the ridiculously hot temperatures to the much more pleasant days of autumn.  Beyond that, we know that it will get colder in winter.  We have to be prepared for the health and well-being of our livestock.  Cross Creek Cattle Company does not fear the winter because we are ready.

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