For the first time, I have put in 4 heifers on my land. It is also my first time having cattle - they are Angus line.
I am baffled by the fact that they seem to prefer eating the leaves off the trees around the paddock than the grass. And mind you, there's plenty of grass for them. They seem to prefer the leaves!
I reckon they didn't have enough grass from the place I bought them from; hence, they got used to eating leaves.
Would there be any negative effects on them? The trees are the decorative trees - all sorts.
Any input would be appreciated.
All tree leaves are poisonous in excess, but what the excessiveness is depends on the tree and the animal and it's susceptibility to that tree.
Yews and the rhododendron family are extremely poisonous.
Macrocarpas and leyland cypress can cause abortions in pregnant animals but are moderately harmless to non-pregnant ones.
Oaks, walnuts and gums have compound which are moderately poisonous.
So your first job is to identify which plants that you have.
Also remember that a few animals might be doing all the damage, so they will be getting a bigger dose than the rest. We had a steer that stripped off bark and ate it, from trees that few others touched.
Some things are poisonous, so it might pay to check what trees are there.
My cattle do exactly the same thing when they enter a paddock with their favourite browsing tree. They immediately go to it to see whether there is any foliage within reach, grown since last time they checked. They'll always browse tree leaves where they can reach them. Then they'll get into the grass.
Our neighbours (the wife), we once shared cattle with, had given our shared cattle the clippings from her garden which included oleander, the greediest steer was the one that died, so make sure that there’s none of that which is also poisonous to humans.
I occasionally feed our cattle native clippings, along with hay, when they may not have enough grass feed in the paddock. At other times when the electric fence hasn’t been checked they help themselves over the fence anyway but there’s no real harm done as the trees and shrubs are established now.
At this time of the year there is not a lot of substance in grass. They may be eating trees to get more fibre in their gut. You could help by feeding them some hay (or baleage) every day.
Are you giving them hay? Winter grass, no matter how long and green it may look, is full of water and not much else. Cattle do need roughage 12x12 and 1/3rd of a bale of hay will probably stop them chewing on your trees.
Thank you for your inputs!
Yes, they do get hay everyday.
But their order of feeding is - trees > hay > grass.
I guess I will just have to temporarily fence off the area where they can reach the trees until I figure out what sort of trees there are.
So far they are all doing well so I would presume the trees are not extremely poisonous to them. However, I think fencing off will be a quicker option to resolve it.
One of mine was munching away at a Tutu tree hanging over the stream reserve fence on her way to a paddock a week or so ago. They like Tutu, it would seem. Never mind that it can kill elephants!