Sunday, 26 April 2015


There is a proportional connection between teeth and age of an animal, specifically cattle.  

Ok... Ok...Most of our herds are composed of cattle of various ages, from newborn calves to fully grown cows and oxen.  Each one on those compositions differs in age.

Soo! What does teething have to do with age?  Cattle have 8 temporary/baby teeth which develop during the first month of their life span after being born.  This teeth will eventually disappear. As they disappear, they are replaced by permanent teeth. As cattle get older and older, the permanent teeth get worn off.  Some teeth even fall off.  In instances like this the animal cannot eat properly.  Due to malnutrition, body condition deteriorates.  Such animals can be auctioned off or slaughtered.  Or if you like, you can simply change the animals diet and find strategies related to that.  

Using permanent teeth, we can than determine the ages of cattle.

Open the cattle's mouth and start counting.

Permanent teeth in comparison to the milk teeth are much bigger in size.  They are also darker and dirty looking in color compared to milk teeth, which are much whiter. 

Figure showing how we can use teeth to determine ages of cattle

Figure showing 6 permanent teeth in a cow.  Thus 30-42 months of age (2.5 years to 3.5 years)

So we do we need to know the age of our cattle? 

As a farmer, you need to put your heifers on the bull at the right time.  When the heifers are not too small, and when they also not too big because you want them to calve as early as possible for purpose of selling offspring.  On my ranch, mother nature makes all the decisions as I do not have multiple camps for breeding seasons. Depending on the breed of cattle, I would place my heifers on the bull at 18 to 24 months (1 year 6 months to 2 years).  During pregnancy, they should be able to gain the rest of the weight in order to attain a minimum of about 300-320kg.

Secondly, if you choose to market to an abattoir like meatco age matters.  That's when  grading is really important.  The grades are A grade, AB grade and C grade. So find out more about these from meatco.

Watch the video to see what I mean exactly.


Monday, 20 April 2015


Ticks! Ticks! Ticks!

Ticks are blood sucking insects found on livestock, primarily cattle, goats and sheep.  Ticks are also found in game animals.

If left unchecked and controlled, this external parasite can significantly reduce cattle weight and milk production.  Mmmm! Could that be why some cattle are skinny?

1.  The mature female lays up to 3000 eggs and dies.
2.  The eggs/larvae hatch.  Once hatched they climb on the grass.       They also hide in tree barks. 
3.  As the animals graze, the ticks climb on their bodies and attach     mouth pieces on the animals skin.
4.  Here, on the animals body, they grow and develop further             becoming more mature with every drop of blood.
5.  The female ticks detach from animals body into the environment.     And lay eggs again.  Process than repeats itself many times         more.

Figures depicting tick life cycle.

Below are the effects of ticks on livestock.

Loss of blood
It is believed that every tick sucks 30 drops of blood in its life time.  Image an animal with hundreds of ticks.  The loss of blood results in retarded growth and weight loss.

The saliva found in ticks release toxins in the body of an animal. This than effects health and productivity of animals.

Ticks are great disease carriers.  Tick borne diseases are theileriosis, heartwater, redwater, gallsickness and sweating sickness (in calves).

These wounds can be super massive.  When attaching mouthpieces demage the skin tissue, leaving wounds.  As a results, germs can pass though into the animals body. Worms can easily enter and gather around the wound and cause more harm.

Tick worry
How irritating!  I would be irritating if I had ticks on my body and do not know how to remove them.   This results to limited grazing.

Loss of distal end of tail
I have seen this!  Numerous times!  Clusters of ticks on tail brush cause harm.

The bite is painful.

How do I control this disaster?

Ticks can be controlled easily.  There are a lot of effective drips, sprays and ointments that can be applied to an animal.  You can contact your nearest VET and ask for advice.  I personally use deadline on ticks.  Its quiet expensive, but useful.  Building dipping trenches can also be used to kill ticks.  As for sweating calves, we have been using traditional alcohol like 'tomboo'.  It seemed to have worked.