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Tinman
09-03-2014, 05:09 AM
I'm writing a scene where a predator is near a cattle herd, and I want to write that the heifers shielded the calves, ringing them for protection the way I've seen herds of other species do. But is that an accurate depiction? Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

blacbird
09-03-2014, 05:19 AM
Probably not. Domestic cattle have lost a lot of whatever their herd survival insticts were. You may be thinking of musk oxen, which oare more closely related to sheep than to cattle.

caw

Elly_Green
09-03-2014, 05:33 AM
The heifers wouldn't have calves, heifers are female cattle who haven't yet or aren't old enough to birth a calf. So, ideally, you'd be talking about cows here, with calves. And, depending on your herd's breed makeup (Hereford vs Angus, per se), the breeds with more/stronger mothering instinct would indeed protect their calves. However, circling them in the center... maybe not so much. Nudging them along and shoving them toward the middle of a stampeding herd, yes.

Tinman
09-03-2014, 05:44 AM
The heifers wouldn't have calves, heifers are female cattle who haven't yet or aren't old enough to birth a calf. So, ideally, you'd be talking about cows here, with calves. And, depending on your herd's breed makeup (Hereford vs Angus, per se), the breeds with more/stronger mothering instinct would indeed protect their calves. However, circling them in the center... maybe not so much. Nudging them along and shoving them toward the middle of a stampeding herd, yes.

Thanks Elly. My experience with cattle mostly begins and ends on the BBQ grill.

The research i did online talked about a "grouping behavior" response to predatory stimuli (in particular, wolves), but I wasn't sure. I certainly never thought it would vary by the breed. Thanks very much.

Also, the scene is in the Midwest. What breed would you pick for its stronger mothering instinct? Thanks!!!

Tinman
09-03-2014, 05:45 AM
Probably not. Domestic cattle have lost a lot of whatever their herd survival insticts were. You may be thinking of musk oxen, which oare more closely related to sheep than to cattle.

caw

Thanks, Blacbird!!!

King Neptune
09-03-2014, 03:41 PM
This article probably has all the information you want and more.
http://animalscience-old.tamu.edu/ansc/beef/ansc406/sepps.pdf

Elly_Green
09-04-2014, 01:46 AM
Also, the scene is in the Midwest. What breed would you pick for its stronger mothering instinct? Thanks!!!

You probably want a mixture. No one really breeds purebreds for the meat market anymore.

My preference has always been combinations of Hereford, Angus, and Simmental. Though, for most readers, Brangus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brangus) or Beefmaster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beefmaster) would suffice.

However, for a dairy farm... definitely Holstein. Have to check on their insitincts though, they aren't necessarily the brightest animals.

Tinman
09-04-2014, 04:41 AM
This article probably has all the information you want and more.
http://animalscience-old.tamu.edu/ansc/beef/ansc406/sepps.pdf


King Neptune. Thanks for the link!!!

Tinman
09-04-2014, 04:47 AM
You probably want a mixture. No one really breeds purebreds for the meat market anymore.


Thanks again. The herd would be for meat purposes, sold at one of the small local auction barns that dot the area.

kkwalker
09-07-2014, 01:55 AM
Modern cattle production is a big business broken into steps, usually. A lot of the time, a farm will focus on a single aspect of the business.

For example, there are farms that strictly produce calves. The calves are sold to other cattlemen who then feed them up to market weight, either on the range or in a feedlot, or some combination of the two.
Big ranches might use the less labor-intensive method of basically allowing the herd to take care of itself on the range and driving it in a few times a year for basic care/vaccinations and to separate out those being sent to market (or the feedlot, if they employ one).

It kinda depends on the size of your herd, but a lot of meat companies will buy an entire herd rather than going to an auction and selecting individual steer (most of the cattle that go to market for meat are steers--cows are generally kept to produce new calves, and a few select bulls might be maintained, if the rancher wants the bother of dealing with one). Castrations are usually done on any males not wanted for breeding, and the vet (or even knowledgeable cattleman) does it right in the cattle chute--no real anesthetic usually. Takes about three to seven minutes.

By the by.... beef cattle are darn difficult to deal with when you do have to handle them. They are WILD. While I was working a herd in school, we had a few leap the 8-foot wall of their surround and go for a jog. Fun!

DocMac
09-07-2014, 04:14 AM
What aspects/types of cattle operation is also going to vary by area. Where I lived in southern Kentucky was predominantly very small(10-16 head) mixed breed (usually angus, Hereford, Simmental crosses) cow/calf operations. They raised the calves on pasture to 8-10 months of age then sent them to auction where they went to feedlots out west and on to slaughter The few larger operations werepure bred (angus or Hereford) breeding operations that sent young heifers all over the region as breeding stock.

Where I am in ohio is predominantly large dairy operations and a lot of the beef cattle are purebred's for 4-h projects. There are also quite a few people I know who buy a few of the the purebred calves and raise them to market weight before making private sales to friends and family for meat.

Back to the original question, I am not familiar with herds of domestic cattle engaging in cooperative behavior to protect caves. An individual cow will generally attempt to protect her own calf.

Technically heifer refers to a young cow that has not had a calf but I have had people use the term "first calf heifer" for a young cow who has had one calf.

Like kkwalker said, most beef cattle aren't handled very much. Saw a cow once who ripped the side of her stomach open on a front end loader because she was upset that the farmer was trying to take her calf up to the barn for medical treatment in it.

Hope all this information helps.

DocMac
09-07-2014, 04:24 AM
P.S. With mixed breed beef cattle, I've noticed a preference among cattlemen to breed for predominantly black cattle because cattle that are more than 50% black can be packaged for meat under the 'Angus Beef' label and seem to bring more money at auction because of it.

Tinman
09-07-2014, 10:05 AM
It kinda depends on the size of your herd, but a lot of meat companies will buy an entire herd rather than going to an auction

By the by.... beef cattle are darn difficult to deal with when you do have to handle them. They are WILD. While I was working a herd in school, we had a few leap the 8-foot wall of their surround and go for a jog. Fun!

Thanks KK. This is a small family farm in a small midwestern town.

An 8-foot wall? Damn. But if I knew someone was going to castrate me I could probably jump that wall too.

Tinman
09-07-2014, 10:12 AM
What aspects/types of cattle operation is also going to vary by area. Where I lived in southern Kentucky was predominantly very small(10-16 head) mixed breed (usually angus, Hereford, Simmental crosses) cow/calf operations. They raised the calves on pasture to 8-10 months of age then sent them to auction where they went to feedlots out west and on to slaughter


Back to the original question, I am not familiar with herds of domestic cattle engaging in cooperative behavior to protect caves. An individual cow will generally attempt to protect her own calf.


Hope all this information helps.


Thanks Doc. Yes, it does help.

The story is set in SE Missouri and it's a small farm, so what you wrote about the Kentucky farm is probably true there too.

I don't need for the whole herd to protect the calves, just the mother of a young calf will do, but I wanted to present it correctly. Thanks again !!!!