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Old 06/10/07, 12:04 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Ohio
Posts: 81
When to start calf on grain?

We are new calf owners. We brought home a 2 week old bull calf on Friday. He is a holstein. We have him on milk replacer and he is doing well so far. When should we start him on grain? We are offering hay, he is nosing through it at this stage.

We raise goats as well. Can a calf be fed a mixture of 1/2 goat milk & 1/2 milk replacer (mixed with water already)? I would gradually change to this mixture, if it were compatable with a calf. I pasteurize the goat milk.

My husband grew up with a herd of dairy cows but he was not involved with management, so he knows just about as little as I do. The calves were bucket fed milk straight from the cow.

I want to make sure I keep this guy healthy, and I soon hope to bring home a holstein heifer calf. I think I am going to be hooked.
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Old 06/10/07, 12:13 PM
dosthouhavemilk's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: SE Ohio
Posts: 2,174
You can slowly switch him over to goat's milk, instead of the milk replacer.
Our calves have Primer 1 (Land O' Lakes calf starter) available free choice from pretty much the start on. Except the bull calves that we don't keep (it isn't allowed for calves that will end up as veal). It has a coccidialstat in it and all the roughage they need (no need for hay).
We put some in their mouth after their bottle or bucket starting at about a week old or so. They nibble it and as they get closer to weaning (about 8 weeks) they take off on it and eat a lot. After they are weaned that is their source of food and they go through it like crazy (we expect them to eat 4 pounds a piece a day). They have Primer free choice until they are 6 months old and switched over to our heifer feed.
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Old 06/10/07, 12:39 PM
georgiarebel's Avatar  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: GA
Posts: 251
Originally Posted by AnniesGoats
When should we start him on grain? We are offering hay, he is nosing through it at this stage.
He'll probably let you know when he's ready. It's probably best when their near weaned, but around two months we offer ours a little while the others are eating to see if they'll eat it. Once they start it doesn't take them long to want it instead.

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Old 06/10/07, 12:55 PM
john in la's Avatar  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: louisiana
Posts: 219
You should offer him free choice calf starter from about a week old. The first week or so they just nose at it to investigate. It also takes a calf a while to extract the nutrients out of and adjust to a new feed. Once he is eating a lb to a lb and a half of feed you can reduce and stop the milk replacer over a few days.

The sooner you have a calf on feed or roughage the sooner their ruminate action starts and in turn the sooner they take full use of their stomach to reduce digestive scoures.
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Old 06/10/07, 01:05 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: West Central WI.
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I have a Calf that at 2 weeks old was eating Calf Starter like nobodies business. and a Jersey Calf at that. now at a month old he is doing just great. Drinking water eating grain and now i will bucket train him instead of bottle feed~! i like to feed milk yet for another couple of weeks at least till they are close to 2 months old. Last week I banded him now I am waiting for the horns to start showing so I can get them off and out~!
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Old 06/10/07, 02:42 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 17,225
Oats is also a good choice for starting calves. It will not bind them up like some grain will.
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Old 06/10/07, 08:41 PM
JulieLou42's Avatar  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: North Central Idaho, Zone 5
Posts: 501
If you feel you must, try him on whatever...we use COB with molasses out here...after the first month, if he takes 1c, down without problems just eating it, as did my last one, then keep on with it, increasing amount over time. I offered about that much every week for several months till he began to be able to handle it with his mouth[!] then he never had more than a #10 canful a week after that, just to bribe him into something that we needed him to do. He was never really weaned, and was 850# at 10.5 months...weight taped at 66.5". So he had mostly hay and mama for that time, and the processor said he looked good for fat, about what he'd want on his own. He was a rather beefy looking 1/2 Jersey, 3/8 Guernsey 1/8 Angus cross.
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Old 06/10/07, 11:33 PM
travlnusa's Avatar  
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: WI
Posts: 1,245
We will shove a handful into their mouths after each feeding, and keep it in front of them at all times, along with clean water.
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Old 06/11/07, 07:48 PM
sammyd's Avatar  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Central WI
Posts: 5,760
Starter should be fed free choice at a week or even earlier along with a good qualiry hay, not grassy horse stuff.
Starter gets the ruemen working better than just hay.
I put a bucket of it in the pen the day I bring them in. The wife usually gives them a handful after each bottle while they are still sucking.
You can even buy bottles with special nippless that dispense starter although I have never tried them.
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Old 06/13/07, 04:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 161
Starter feed and water should be available to the calf freely after a week. Water is very important. Without fresh water their ruemen can't get a good start. When the calf is eating about 3 lbs of starter a day for a few days straight, it means it is time to wean.
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