Cattle can be quite an investment. They require particular setups, a certain amount of acreage, and proper supplies to keep them healthy. Whether you have a large or small-scale farm, it can be complicated to get started. But once you familiarize yourself, it will be a breeze.
Owning cattle is hard work, but there are items you can get to make daily life easier. Let’s discuss the different aspects of cow care and the supplies they require.
The 10 Essential Cattle Supplies
1. Proper Diet
- Our Choice: Purina Animal Nutrition
Your cows are grazing animals, getting most of their nutrients from the surrounding grasses and foliage in their area. Cows have four stomachs, meaning they go through complex digestion to let their food pass through their bodies fully. Because of this, they must have the correct balance of nutrients in their bodies to help the process along.
Your diet might differ slightly depending on the purpose of your cattle. For instance, your meat cattle might Grays purely on different types of grass and supplemental haze. On the other hand, dairy cows burn a lot more calories due to their high metabolism, and they might require grain and hay supplementation.
You do have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to diet. You have to ensure they are getting the proper nutrients while grazing and otherwise. Some people prefer the taste of meats when they are completely grain fed whereas others prefer grass-fed. Regardless of what you choose as your primary diet source, they will need some supplementation, especially in the winter months.
- We recommend Purina Animal Nutrition.
- Our Choice: YCFERSEY Electric Fence Polywire
It would be best if you had the proper fencing to keep your cattle in. The amount of fencing you need differs greatly depending on your herd size and acreage to cover. You must remember that these are large and powerful animals, so they can break through flimsy structures.
He will need both the appropriate height and an electric fence to keep cattle in line and inside. If you have a small-scale farm with only a pair of cattle or so, you might be able to get by without having an electric fence. But that will depend on your cattle’s temperament.
- We recommend YCFERSEY Electric Fence Polywire.
- Our Choice: ShelterLogic Corral Shelter
Luckily because cows are so large, they don’t have a lot of natural predators when they’re grazing in the field. This is a real relief to farmers, as many smaller farm animals fall susceptible to predatory animals.
Out in the pasture, it’s nice to have some shelter they can escape to when the weather gets bad or it’s incredibly hot, and they require shade. Shade is essential to cows, as they are large animals that can overheat quickly.
You can buy a prefabricated structure, pay a company, or build a structure or two yourself. Aside from the main barn, cattle should have small shelters to escape inclement weather. The size depends on how many cows you have.
You can make permanent, temporary, and even movable structures. There are many you can purchase in-store and online. Or you can go solo and make your own for less money.
- We recommend ShelterLogic Corral Shelter if something prefabricated meets your needs.
4. Water Source
- Our Choice: Little Giant Poly Oval Stock Tank
We cannot stress enough how much water your cow drinks daily. Just a singular cow can drink up to 20 gallons of water. Some people are lucky enough to have a pond on the property that their cow can go to for most of their hydration needs.
But if you don’t have that luxury, you’re going to ensure they have access to fresh, clean water daily.
- You can buy a water stock tank and create a watering system that works best for your setup.
- Our Choice: Derby Originals Leather Halter
It is imperative to have the appropriate restraints for your cattle. After all, you have to consider that these animals weigh more than most humans shortly after birth. They are solid and sometimes can also be very strong-willed.
If you have to motivate your cattle to perform certain actions, this can prove difficult without the proper measures. Also, it can pose quite a health risk if cattle come up against you in any way. Even a slight kick can seriously injure or even kill a person.
Handling your cattle correctly in a manner that they are both calm and safe is incredibly important. Having halters to guide your cow and the proper roping for restraint will make barnyard life much easier!
- If you need a good idea, here is the Derby Originals Leather Halter we recommend for cattle.
6. Food Troughs
- Our Choice: Lock N Load Livestock Feed Bucket
Your cattle are going to need somewhere to eat and drink. Although they spent most of their day grazing in the fields and likely cool and hydrate themselves in a small pond, they still need these items in a barn structure.
Your cattle cannot survive on foliage alone. They absolutely require supplementation to their daily diets. This is especially true in the wintertime when vegetation is sparse and limited ingredients are available.
You should have a readily available food source for your cattle so they can get the proper nutrition in addition to grazing. There are plenty of commercial cow feeds and hay types, and each person will have their preferences.
But regardless, getting a food trough helps organize the food and make it readily available for your herd.
- Here is an A-OK option to get your started – Lock N Load Livestock Feed Bucket.
Because you will need to transport your cow at some point, you must be prepared for that. A cow is not something you can toss in the back of your pick-up and go. You have to have a proper livestock trailer to haul your cattle safely.
This is a pretty big investment and might not be necessarily right up front, but it is something that you will eventually have to cave and buy it. Luckily, you can get livestock transport used for much less, or you can buy new from the company of your choice.
- Our Choice: SHARPTEMP-V Thermometer
Your cows are going to need routine vaccinations from their veterinarian. Viruses can quickly spread through a herd and be very expensive to treat if needed. To stay ahead of any illness, it’s essential to take your cow’s temperatures routinely.
Most thermometers are inexpensive, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that works for you.
- Having a few on hand will help with any mishaps or misplaced thermometers. We have to recommend the SHARPTEMP-V.
- Our Choice: Durvet High Level Vitamin B Complex
You will be responsible for performing more than half of your cows that care right at your own home. You have to get comfortable with the fact that they will need different types of care that might initially be uncomfortable for you.
Your cows will need to be dewormed, vaccinated, and supplemented. When administering medication, it’s always best to have restraints and a helping hand. Also, you have to be prepared to handle the animal under tense circumstances.
Medications that you distribute to your cattle can be both oral and injectable. You’ll have to get comfortable with both unless you have a vet on hand who can perform the task for you. Many people prefer to achieve this at home.
You can pick up medication to distribute to your cattle at local feed shops or online. Sometimes you will have to have veterinary approval.
- Here is a much-needed Vitamin B Complex supplement – the Durvet High Level Vitamin B Complex.
10. Medical Supplies
- Our Choice: NEWTRY Livestock Syringes
In addition to having the proper medication knowledge, getting medical supplies is super important. Your cows can get surface wounds, parasites, infections, and many other ailments.
You will have to have medication dispensers, syringes, new needles, ointments, supplements, wound dressings, and countless other medical supplies. You can get the ones you need most upfront and buy as you go, so there’s not a huge expense.
But you will need these types of supplies on hand to make sure to treat any issue with speed.
- Here are some much-needed NEWTRY Livestock Syringes to have on hand.
Extra Things to Think About
Bringing home a few cows is a huge commitment. Cattle require extensive care and can get quite expensive unexpectedly. You have to consider so many things before taking the plunge. If you’re still on the fence or you’re just trying to price out supplies, here are a few other things you can consider.
Purpose of Your Cows
Knowing what you plan to do with your cattle is of utmost importance. You can have a dairy cow that will take care of your single household, or you can get a few cows for dairy production and make a few bucks. You’re definitely going to want to have a name, whether it be dairy or meat.
You can also raise a few cattle to be butchered when they’re old enough. Because these two Purposes might require different supplies, you can make your shopping list accordingly.
Appropriate Acreage to Cow Ratio
Even if you’re certain you’re getting cows, but you’re not sure how many, that will depend on how much land you have. If you overcrowd cows, it can deplete the food source that they eat naturally, causing you to up supplementation.
Overcrowding can also cause sickness to spread rapidly, so you want to make sure your cows are nice and spaced out. The general rule of thumb is to have no more than two cows per acre.
No matter the reason for getting cows, you can’t fail if you’re fully prepared. Having the proper supplies before you bring your cattle home is completely advisable. The rest will fall in line if you have the basics. As you know, everything about starting up a small cattle operation is pricey.
So you have to be prepared to pay the cost and not skip out on necessary items that could quite literally mean life or death for your herd.
Featured Image Credit: PhotoMIX-Company, Pixabay