How to Take Care of Ranch Animals

Your ranch’s success depends on your ability to raise healthy animals that command a high price at the market.

You must not only take care of the animals that you intend to sell but also your breeding stock. The three main things you must do to care for livestock are similar to those that you would do for domestic pets.

Medical Care

Even animals who spend the majority of their lives on the range can get injured or sick and require medical attention at times. It is important to have a veterinarian on call who specializes in animal care. You may wish to invest in livestock and equine insurance if you’re worried about not having the money to care for your animals when they need it.

Give High-Quality Food

You may think that your animals are getting enough food from grazing in your fields all day, but you can supplement their diet with high-quality grains. Research which grain is the most nutritious and cost-effective so that you can find a product that will work for your livestock without going broke.

Build A Shelter

You may not be able to accommodate your entire herd in a barn but you still need to provide shelter for them from bad weather. You can use a barn to treat animals who are injured or sick, but if you want to save money you can build a Lean-to.

It is easier to care for livestock than pets because they require less supervision. However, if you wish to ensure that your herd remains healthy, it is important to take the proper steps to do so. These three tips can help you keep your herd happy and healthy so that they can make a profit.

Animal Care

At Potter Family Ranch, we are open and look forward to any discussions or questions our customers would have about the care and raising of our animals.  With so much fear around animal agriculture built on the internet, we encourage folks to ask the people they trust to raise their food rather than believing everything they read or see online.  Though we admit that we also Google any question we have to learn the answer to, there is way more to farming and raising animals than the first page of hits on a Google search.  Farmers care so deeply for their animals as well as the product they are raising for you to eat, and this is oftentimes not seen online.  Lots of farms are different, and that is perfectly OK!  We would like to tell you a little bit about how we do it on our farm.  We raise all our animals on pasture year-round.  In the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains in New York State, this is difficult to do at least half of the calendar year.  During that time, our cows eat round bales of grass hay, or baleage, and a grain and mineral mix.  Baleage is grass hay that is wrapped in white plastic wrap when it is harvested.  With the little bit of moisture in it and the airtight conditions of the plastic wrap, the hay will ferment, just like beer or wine.  This makes a yummy feed for the cows as well as hay that is a little better quality for them to digest.  When a steer (a castrated boy cow) is around 20 months old, he will be offered a grain mix as well as allthe grass hay he can eat.  We feed steers a special diet of extra grain the couple months prior to him becoming food for us because it makes the meat taste amazing. 

If any of our cows were to get sick, and they sometimes do, our veterinarian would recommend a treatment plan both to make them feel better and to cure whatever ailment they may have.  Cows can get pneumonia, diarrhea, and mastitis and also get injured, just like we can.  We believe, as the caretakers of these animals, that we need to provide the best possible care we can offer and we use all the medicines available to do so.  As cows are food-producing animals, all farmers take great care that none of the medicines that we give a cow will ever be present in the meat.  For example, the drug penicillin is very common and will cure a cow of pneumonia and many other illnesses.  If we were to give penicillin to a cow, he or she cannot become food until that drug is completely out of their system, which takes a very long time.  To put it in perspective, if you are spending extra money on a food product labeled ‘antibiotic free’, you are being misled into wasting money. In addition, we do not use any added hormones on our farm, although this point is moot as well.  Any living thing has hormones in it; it is simply a naturally occurring part of life.  So, any food that is labeled hormone-free is not accurate as well.  The hormone levels in meat are naturally very low, while the naturally occurring levels in many plants, such as soy, are notably much higher.  These are just a couple examples of things that any farmer would be happy to discuss with you.  We encourage you to ask questions and look openly for discussions with the farmers who produce any of your food. 

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