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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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Keeping beef
...Calf feeding

In the spring, if you bought an Autumn calf, or late Summer if you bought a Spring one, you can turn the young stock out.

The grass they go on to should not have been grazed by other livestock for a long time. If the last livestock was cattle, there should ideally have been a twelve-month gap. If it was sheep, a few months is sufficient.

These animals are extremely susceptible to infection at this stage and every effort should be made to minimise worm loads on fields and flies in the area. If the weather is unkind, they may well require gradual hardening off, like plants. In any case, they will still need some concentrate until they get used to their new diet. If they were put out in the spring, they can stay out well into September. If you put them out in August, you only have a month or so before they come back in. Inside, they are fed on silage or hay and barley to keep them in a growing condition. Depending on breed, the animals can finish indoors on this ration or go out on to the spring grass and then finish at the end of the summer. They are happiest in batches of about ten when they are indoors and you must always be careful that none of them gets left behind in growth. If they do, it is best to separate the slow ones off. The animals that finish on grass always seem to have a better flavour.

However, animals out in fields are exposed to poisoning and other hazards so they are usually sent off as soon as they reach the required weight. This is around 500 kg depending on breed. That just goes to show how much calves grow. A batch of ten tiny calves grows to a joint weight of around 5,000 kg. That is a lot of beef.