After much ado, like chasing a calf through bean fields for 3 days, I now have 2 Dexter's. 1 heifer and 1 bull calf.
I'm trying to work out feeding schedules? Can someone please give me a clue. I let them pasture on regular grass all day.
I have a hay field and do feed them hay in the morning and evening, like 1/3 bale for both calves. Is this enough food for them? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
James, you say that your Dexter cattle are on pasture, but you don't say what sort of pasture. See our section on Pasture Grass for more info.
Your cattle must be on good pasture, both in type and in mineral content. Whole barley is good to add to your feed, in addition to the hay. Barley contains Vitamin B5 which is needed for an animal's cortisone production. In addition you could add no more than 10% lupins to your feed.
Your cows will also need some salt if they are not getting it from the pasture. Make sure that they are not getting too much salt however, as high sodium levels can result in inhibiting the uptake of potassium and other trace elements. Leaving lumps of natural salt in rock from put out in the fields is best.
Rice pollards also make an extremely valuable feed, and is higher in protein than lupins. Better still, it doesn't cause iron depletion that lupins do. Approximately 6-7 ounces of rice pollards, per Dexter cow, per day would be enough. Barley and rice pollards are both good feeds.
With regards to minerals, stay away from chelated minerals. Cattle are unable to digest chelated minerals. Instead they go straight to the liver, lodge there, and end up being problematic for your cattle.
For your Dexter cattle to be healthy they need the following minerals:
Calcium Magnesium Phosphorus Copper Zinc
They will be able to get this in a mineral lick that you can make yourself:
Copper is essential to good health in cattle, and the additional benefit is that those cattle that have been fed copper have fewer worms and intestinal parasites.
Mix the mineral lick together well, put into a container and place in a sheltered area away from any contact with rain. If your lick is contaminated with rain it will lose its efficacy, especially the copper content.
So to summarize, as long as your pasture is good, and you are giving them a good hay, such as clover hay, along with cracked barley and 10% lupins or rice pollards, with all the necessary minerals included from your mineral lick, your Dexter cattle will be happy and healthy.