When you want to add a herd of cattle to your farm, you may wonder how often to check on them.
After all, cattle tend to be fairly independent.
They still need checking up on whether they are beef cattle or dairy cattle.
How often should you check on your cattle?
Ideally, check on cattle daily. There are many risks like theft, injury, and predators capable of harming your cattle. They may also run out of food or water. Calving cattle should be checked more frequently, especially during labor when they should be checked multiple times a day.
Keeping cattle comes with a lot of responsibility.
Part of this is checking in on the cattle herd and ensuring everything is okay.
Let’s look into how often to check on cattle and why it’s important.
Do I Need To Check On My Cattle Every Day?
Ideally, check in on your cattle daily.
Keeping cattle means making important management decisions to ensure their safety and well-being.
Some people will acquire property and put cattle on it, thinking they only have to check in on them weekly or even less frequently.
However, seven days gives a lot of opportunity for something bad to happen to your herd if you only check them weekly.
Beef cattle producers and dairy keepers know their herd is an investment and must be protected.
Leaving too much time between checking in on the herd increases the likelihood of injury or missed diagnosis in dairy and beef cattle.
Catching injuries and illness early helps cattle rack ranchers and dairy farmers protect their herd and deal with issues early.
Even the most well-behaved cattle will occasionally get into some trouble.
Whether you raise cattle for slaughter or milk production, sticking to daily checks on animal health and well-being is very important.
If you don’t have the means of checking daily, shoot for every 2-3 days and make sure you conduct a thorough check.
This includes checking fence conditions, feed holders, water systems, and the overall health of the cattle herd.
Some non-bovine animals like goats and sheep do much better without daily checks, but cattle should be checked daily.
Why Is Checking On Cattle Important?
Think of checking in on cattle as checking in on your investment.
This includes checking in on problem pieces of property like fencing conditions.
If the fence condition is bad, predators could easily get in, and cattle could easily get lost.
It is also important to check animal health frequently to catch issues early.
Unfortunately, theft is an issue in some areas.
When you raise an animal for slaughter, others may be tempted to steal the cattle to sell them to make a profit.
Making your presence known will likely deter these types of efforts.
If you live in a risky area, consider barbed wire fences to protect livestock or add extra security equipment to fences.
Both beef cattle producers and dairy farmers face injuries in their herds.
Sometimes it just happens.
Cattle get caught in 5-strand fences or may get bit by a potential predator.
Sometimes cattle fight and injure themselves this way.
Catching injuries early for cows and non-bovine animals helps prevent dangerous infections.
If you only check on your herd of cattle once or twice a week or less frequently, you leave them open to the risk of injuries and those injuries festering and getting much worse than if you had caught them earlier.
Faulty Feeding or Watering Equipment
Some people leave their cattle unattended for longer periods because they have automatic feeding and watering equipment to meet their basic needs.
However, these are not foolproof.
You may have beautiful pastures for your cattle to graze, but if you don’t check in on their feed and water status, your cattle may be in trouble.
It is also generally not a good idea to go long periods without changing out their water as bacteria will grow and cause risks of infections and disease.
If you live in an area with many mosquitoes or other bugs using water to breed in, the stagnant water may become a host to larvae for insects.
One of the most prominent risks in many areas is predators.
If you don’t frequently check your fence lines, you may face dead calves and cattle.
This is why daily checks are so important.
Regardless of how frequently you check on your herd, use electric or barbed wire fences to protect your cattle if you have predators around.
Further Reading: How many joules and volts does an electric fence need for cows?
Adding motion detector light equipment to fences may also help deter predators so they aren’t victims of their next meal.
How Often Should I Check On Calving Cattle?
It is even more important to check in on the herd if you have calving heifers, especially first-calf heifers.
There are many risks during the calving period.
Conducting calving checks is important for the health of the mother and baby.
If you keep a calving herd, you likely know how things may potentially go wrong and the extra care and attention they need during this time.
You must be there for the mother and calf during labor if you want successful calving outcomes.
This will help find complications early during the calving process, like a breech calf or other issues.
Here are some guidelines for checking in on calving heifers in labor.
- Stage 1 of labor requires checking in on the heifers every 3 hours. This phase is usually referred to as “messing around” as they prepare and adjust themselves for stage 2 or active labor.
- Stage 2 of labor is active delivery which requires more frequent checks.
Other guidelines for checking in on calving heifers are reflecting on their age, calving history, and weather conditions:
- Young heifers and first-time heifers require more frequent checking.
- History of large calves in the past means you must check in to ensure everything goes well.
- Weather affects how easily mothers calf. Cold and wet weather usually requires more frequent checking and assistance in successfully calving.