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Old 02/16/07, 03:21 PM
francismilker's Avatar
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Best Method for Nurse Cows?

Does anybody have any insight on getting a cow to take more calves on? I've got one old Jersey that will let anything in the pasture nurse. Some of the others (Jerseys and Holstein cross heifers) will kick and head butt all of those that aren't theirs if they're in the pasture. On the other hand, all of my cows are content to raise orphans if they're standing at a feed trough or head gate. It just gets a little expensive on the feed bill letting a cow stand and eat 20+pounds of feed to get all the calves fed. I just wanted to get someone elses take on it since I've got four heifers due to calve in March.

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Old 02/17/07, 09:51 AM
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We always start our nurse cows at the feed pan when introducing a new calf. If your cow has just calved, get a calf as soon as possible and put it on her while her calf nurses. You may have to keep the cow and calf up for several days while the new calf gets used to nursing that cow. We have found that these calves soon get smart enough to nurse while the cow's own calf nurses or to nurse from behind while the cow is eating. We sometimes have to put a cow in the stanchion and tie her leg back for several days while the new calf nurses; but they soon settle down if the calf hangs in there and keeps nursing.

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Old 02/17/07, 08:25 PM
randiliana
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Hobbles. We hobble them if they don't want to stand, or if they want to kick. Usually only takes a couple days. Some cows just won't accept a different calf though. They may be good while they have grain in front of them, or if you are there, but won't let the calf suck if you aren't around. Bought an older holstien cow that would let ANYTHING suck, 1,2,3,10 didn't matter to her. Age didn't either, we had to make sure she couldn't get near the replacement heifers since she would actually ecourage them to suck. Sold one holstein to a friend that milks (we don't, just keep them around for nurse cows) 2 years in a row she would take HER calf, but wouldn't let anything else suck unless there was a person there. On the other hand we bought a 2 year old holstien last spring (fresh but no calf) immediately gave her 2 calves, we hobbled her for a week and she was good to go. Later that summer we lost a cow and had to put another calf on her. Got her in and pointed the calf at her and she took it just like that. They all have their own personalities, some are easy, some are difficult and some are impossible.

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Old 02/17/07, 11:38 PM
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Location: Alberta, Canada
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Hi there,

I was reading some tips in the Cattleman magazine this evening on getting cows to bond with calves (theirs or fosters) when they aren't too keen on accepting the calf. A couple of ideas stick out in my mind. I haven't tried them but they just might work.

One mentioned hog tying the calf so it can't get up...it will struggle and call out, similar to the way a newborn calf will act when its first born and trying to stand. The tip also suggested sprinkling the back of the calf with some grain or dry milk replacer to encourage the cow to lick and bond with the calf.

Another tip suggested bringing a dog in the pen. One sight of the canine might be enough to kick that maternal instinct into gear.

We've found that when trying to get a cow (or goat) to take a foster baby on that we had to intervene for about 3 days doing what it takes (typing up a foot, offering grain, bringing baby to the teat) til the baby has had several days worth of the cow's milk run through their system. For some reason I think they start to smell like the cow once they've had her milk for a while and she will accept them more readily. Not sure what it is about the 3 days but it usually is smooth sailing after that.

Hope this helps,

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