Starting out with miniature cattle - this information is provided for first-time livestock owners as a starting point only. Cattle need pasture, shade, fresh water, ongoing care and regular contact with their owner.
Pasture: Pasture is the mixture of different grasses, legumes, and the like that are in your paddock. The greater the variety of grasses and legumes in your paddock the better the nutritional value the pasture has for your cattle. It is probably wise to seek local knowledge on the type of lantana and other weeds you may have on your property that are poisonous to cattle. Talk to your vet or a farmer who lives near you about these things.
You need at least three paddocks so that the pasture can be rested and the cattle get a fresh paddock regularly. Alternatively, if you only have one large paddock you can divide it into three. You can easily use inexpensive electric fencing to divide up one paddock. A small battery or solar powered transformer and PVC tread in posts with a strand of poly wire are all you need. Most transformers are no bigger than a 1-litre milk container and can be run on D cell or 12-volt batteries. Battery powered transformers can be purchased for under $200 and the white tread in PVC posts under $6.
Boundary fences need to be well maintained and strong enough to contain your biggest, most adventurous animal. Four or five strands of wire, barbed or plain, with star pickets and timber corner posts and stays, should be sufficient. Most cattle won't test fences if all their needs are being met on 'their' side of the fence.
Purebred heifer calf GOLD CREEK Kismet 13 months old in a slashed paddock with plenty of shade.
Shade: Every paddock should have mature trees that the cattle can't wreck or, at least, a solid shade structure where cattle can get out of the sun. Make sure the shade is always available in the middle of the day in every paddock. Galloways have a double coat and don't usually need shelter from the cold, (not in coastal areas and most other parts of Australia anyway), but they do need shade.
Fresh Water: Miniature Galloway cattle need a water container or trough in the paddock that is monitored and topped up regularly or an automatic trough. Even automatic troughs need to be checked occasionally to see that they fill properly. Ideally, the container needs to be deep enough for the water to stay cool or to be shaded in the heat of the day. If the cattle have access to a dam or pond that is fine - as long as you don't mind the water being fouled and the edges of the dam/pond being eroded.
Contact and Care: At least once a week, look carefully at your miniature cattle and even run your hands all over them if you have time. By doing this, you will remain familiar with your cattle and you will be able to notice when things change. You will be able to take note of the condition of the animal and their coat. You will also notice things like too many ticks, flies, cows preparing to calve and odd behaviour.
We wander around with a brush in our pocket and a halter most of the time. Snuggle loves it.
If you notice your miniature cattle are losing condition (getting skinny), you need to add extra hay or other feed to supplement their pasture. If they are getting too fat, you might want to cut back on the extras or put them in a different paddock.
Cattle Ticks & Parasites: In the hotter months of the year, if you live in a tick zone, keep an eye out for the appearance of cattle ticks on your miniature cattle. If ticks become a problem, you will need to use a pour-on or spray product to control the tick numbers. Most of the pour-ons you use for ticks also treat internal parasites. So, even if you don't have ticks, the cattle will still need a product like Ivermectin, Cydectin or something similar periodically to treat worms and other internal parasites. You can purchase smaller bottles (smaller than cattle stations use), of these products at Landmark, a produce store or the like. You pour a measured amount down the spine. There is a tape you can use (like a dressmaker's tape) to work out the weight of the animal so you know the correct amount of pour-on you need to use. These tapes are also available from Landmark, a produce store or the like.
Paralysis Ticks: These are most common in Queensland and the northern parts of NSW. If you have very young, small miniature calves (younger than three months old) check them for paralysis ticks just like you would a dog. Miniature Galloway calves are only the size of the medium and large dog breeds until they are 4-5months old. You could rinse the calves in Fido Tick Rinse or Permoxin regularly to protect them from paralysis ticks until they are bigger. Paralysis ticks won't kill larger calves, but you still need to keep an eye on them and remove ticks when you find them.
Buffalo Fly: Again, usually in Queensland and the northern parts of New South Wales. In the hotter months of the year, look out for buffalo fly. These small flies hang around and irritate the cattle's eyes, in particular - sometimes making them bleed. Galloways are usually protected by their coat on the rest of the body.
If they become a problem a product like Brute, a pour on works well for people with small numbers of cattle. You might be able to purchase a couple of ear tags from a neighbour who uses these to protect their cattle from buffalo fly. If you want to use non-chemical or organic alternatives there are a few available.
Get to know other people in your area with cattle. Cattle people' are really helpful people. They usually don't mind being asked what you might feel are 'silly questions'. If you can team up with a couple of other people who also have miniature cattle, it can help immensely. You get the opportunity to share information, ideas, costs and worries.
Vaccinations and Injections: Cattle need an annual 7 in 1 injection (5 in 1 in some states). The 7 in 1 injection is an immunisation against enterotoxemia, blackleg, malignant oedema, black disease, tetanus and leptospirosis. You may choose to use other injections to solve other problems. Vaccinating valuable cattle against Tick Fever in Queensland is highly recommended.
Bovine Ephemeral Fever: If you notice your cattle are moving stiffly or laying down and not getting up, then Bovine Ephemeral Fever or Three Day Sickness as it is commonly called, might be the problem. An annual Bovine Ephemeral Fever (BEF) injection will immunise your cattle against this viral disease of cattle and buffalo. Typically, affected animals are only sick for a few days, hence the alternative name - Three Day Sickness. Three Day does not usually kill cattle and some people only immunise their most valuable herd members. If your cattle do come down with Three Day Sickness, you will need to make sure they are in the shade and have plenty of water while they recover. You may have to take this to them if they are not moving (although they may not be able to drink as BEF can affect their ability to swallow).
Tick Fever: In Queensland breeders 'blood' their cattle (vaccinate them) against Tick Fever. Tick Fever is a disease of cattle acutely infected with one of three blood-borne parasites that are carried by cattle ticks. The vaccine is inexpensive and can be sourced from the Tick Fever Centre Street address: 280 Grindle Rd, Wacol QLD 4076. As a preventative measure, a dose of Imizol (from the Tick Fever Centre or your local Vet) at 2.5 mL per 100kg live body weight given by subcutaneous injection will protect cattle from Tick Fever for a four week period (when introducing to, or transporting through tick areas).
CATTLE GOING INTO QUEENSLAND (OR NORTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES)
If you are transporting cattle into the state of Queensland (Qld) from areas where cattle are not exposed to cattle ticks or paralysis ticks, please take special care. Unprotected cattle can, and do die, when brought into tick areas.
Insist that the cattle are vaccinated for Tick Fever at least 4- 6 weeks before transporting them into Qld. If this is not possible, then inject the cattle with Imizol straight away. As a preventative measure, a dose ofImizol at 2.5 mL per 100kg live body weight given by subcutaneous injection will protect cattle from Tick Fever for a four week period. Or watch the new cattle very closely for weeks/months, and at the first sign of lethargy, inject them with Imizol then.
For the treatment of Tick Fever, the recommended dose of Imizol is 1 ml per 100kg live body weight given by subcutaneous injection. The injection site should be swabbed clean with antiseptic before dosing. Very severely affected cattle may require a second dose 24 hours later. Good nursing is also important including the provision of shade and availability of water and feed. Vaccinating cattle is not a guarantee that they won't get Tick Fever, but it gives them a good chance of survival if they do get it. It is not worth the risk of losing a single one of these beautiful bovine creatures to Tick Fever.
We check our newborn calves daily until they are three months old. We run our hands all over them - they love it. The older calves often show us where to find them. Kismet shows me where Storm Boy is hidden in the grass - 2015.
These organisms are transmitted by the cattle tick and cause red cell destruction and pathology in numerous organs. Clinical signs may include fever, anaemia, jaundice, red urine and nervous signs; but these signs will vary depending on the parasite, its virulence, and the stage of infection. The disease is widespread in cattle tick-infested areas of northern Australia, including Queensland.
If you are transporting cows into Qld with young calves at foot, you also need to be very vigilant in checking the calves for paralysis ticks. Paralysis ticks will kill young calves (younger than three months). Some breeders rinse the calves in Fido Tick Rinse (dog product that can be used every four days) or Permoxin (horse product that can be used every ten days) to protect them from paralysis ticks until they are bigger. Even if you use these products it is wise to run your hands over the calves daily (feel with your fingers moving against the direction in which the coat is growing). If a tick is difficult to remove it is probably a paralysis tick.
It is not likely that one paralysis tick will kill a larger miniature calf, but you still need to keep an eye on the calves. Remove ticks when you find them. This is especially important if the cattle have come from an area where there are no paralysis ticks. If a large number of paralysis ticks get on a larger calf and stay on that one calf, this could kill the calf. Calves will look lethargic, lick their lips a lot, pant and go wobbly in the back legs when they have a paralysis tick on them. Take action immediately.
Reference Books: If you want further information on cattle care there are a couple of good books we recommend often. Margo Hayes Small Cattle for Small Farms. Pat Coleby Healthy Cattle Naturally (now out of print but you can get Natural Cattle Care by Pat Coleby). Both books are less than $40 each.
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