Is it possible to raise a nice growing bottle calf? - Homesteading Today
Homesteading Today

Go Back   Homesteading Today > Livestock Forums > Cattle

Cattle For Those Who Like To Have A Cow.


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread
  #1  
Old 03/29/11, 03:12 PM
bknthesdle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 1,708
Is it possible to raise a nice growing bottle calf?

Last year I raised a couple of bottle calves. But neither one of them grew as well as a calf on it's mother. I used calf milk replacer. I had them on the bottle for close to three months. They had two bottles a day, free choice hay and a mix of oats and sweet feed. But still they didn't grow as well as their counterparts out in pasture with their moms. They seemed to have big hay bellies too.

This year I have a chance to raise another bottle calf but I would like her to grow up big and sturdy. I am told it's possible. There is talk of a lady that passed away and she was amazing at raising well grown bottle calves. So, what did I do wrong? How can I raise a nice calf that isn't growth stunted or behind those calves on the cow? Please...any advice would be appreciated!

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 03/29/11, 03:32 PM
sammyd's Avatar  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Central WI
Posts: 4,956

We feed a quality milk replacer for about 8 weeks. We provide access to a 16 or 18% calf starter grain within a week as well as fresh water daily.
No cutting feed with oats or even bothering with hay until after weaning.

You need to get the rumen developed and ready to work quickly. The calf on a cow has access to high protein high fat stuff for many months, and unless you want to drop a bundle in milk replacer your bottle calf won't. The only way to compete with the milk is high quality, higher protein feeds.

Personally other than an occasional runt bought in at 60 pounds we've never had a bottle calf I would consider an underachiever.

__________________

Deja Moo; The feeling I've heard this bull before.

Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03/29/11, 03:34 PM
Jennifer L.'s Avatar  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: New York bordering Ontario
Posts: 4,423

Calves on the cows get a small amount of milk anytime they want it. If you stand and watch a herd for awhile you see that calves out playing tag with each other until they get tired, lay down for a while and then up for a snack off mother and back to play. All day long, over and over. Milk is very insulinogenic, and one of the things that means in a young animal, is that it pushes growth. You feed a bottle calf twice a day and they get a large amount of milk at once, which triggers their insulin levels upward, but by the time the calf is getting its next bottle ten or twelve hours later, the insulin levels have dropped. Those calves with Mama Cow never have an insulin drop. It's always up there, it's always promoting their growth. That would my take on why they always do better. Add to it, they are certainly getting more milk than the bottle calf. So it's better timing on feeding, and it's more milk to boot.

Have you ever noticed that calves that genetically have horns will not grow horns to speak of until they are quite old when they are on the cow? Bottle calves have horns that come along quite quickly. Just another indicator of how much milk the Mama raised ones are getting.

A calf's rumen is fully functional when they are five months old, but calves on Mama don't need to push forage so they don't get the hay belly. Bottle calves are often confined and bored, so they'll eat the hay in front of them even though they really don't need it at that young an age. It's poor quality feed for them (even the best hay possible) because their rumens aren't up to speed, and it just slows their growth down. Small amounts of hay are fine because it does promote rumen development, but if they are eating a lot of it, it's not really helping them.

My mother always wanted to see a calf wearing a "hair skirt". She meant that the calf had a boxy, square look to their body, and at the calf's belly/side junction, there would be a little flare of hair all along there. You can see it in photos of well raised calves. I think it's an indicator of their body shape, which in itself is an indicator of the nutrition they've had.

Dunno if I answered any of your question or just rambled.

Jennifer

__________________

-Northern NYS

Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03/30/11, 12:21 AM
bknthesdle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 1,708

Has anyone raised a bottle calf comparable in size to their counterparts out in pasture with their moms?

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03/30/11, 12:41 AM
springvalley's Avatar
Family Jersey Dairy
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Illinois
Posts: 4,769

While I do believe calves left on their mother will grow better than a bottle fed counterpart, I raise some very nice bottle calves. I feed whole raw milk to my bottle calves, and feed longer than alot of people do. I also feed very little grain to my calves, and feed grass hay about as soon as they will start nibbling at it. I never have a calf with a hay belly, I have no idea if it has something to do with feeding raw milk or not. I also half starve my jersey calves for the first week or two, and I have to say I never loose calves to scours. I have no idea weather or not I`m that good or just that lucky. I have lived on a farm and had dairy cattle most of my life , so that may have helped. So my answer would be , yes you can raise nice bottle calves. > Thanks Marc

__________________

Our Diversified Stock Portfolio: cows and calves, alpacas, horses, pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, cats ... and a couple of dogs...
http://springvalleyfarm.4mg.com

Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03/30/11, 07:02 AM
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 2,509
Quote:
Originally Posted by bknthesdle View Post
Has anyone raised a bottle calf comparable in size to their counterparts out in pasture with their moms?
Yes - once! A calf out of a Jersey cow that looks like a bag of bones but produces the most amazing calves no matter what bull she goes to. She was feed in the convential twice a day regime with acess to calf feed from day three but she outstripped her other hand reared counterparts.

So to answer the original question, yes it is possible to rear a good bottle fed calf but for the most part they will never look as good as calves reared on their dams and Jennifer explains this very well. However, they do eventually catch up and do well. I only have to look at my herd of milkers to know this. They were all hand reared, the eldest is now R14 and calved the day before yesterday. The others range down in age to 7 years old so none are any longer young.

Cheers,
Ronnie
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03/30/11, 10:30 AM
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: NW OK
Posts: 3,030

sammyd gave some good advise.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03/30/11, 10:45 AM
bknthesdle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 1,708

Thanks for all the responses. I figured since mine didn't grow as well that I was missing something. That special formula to make them grow. Thought we were going to have a bottle calf again this year but it's looking like the hubby is just going to sell her with her mom today.

We had a heifer that as soon as she should signs of labor became aggressive and dangerous. And in the last few days her demeanor hasn't changed. She is out for someone's blood.

We thought of pulling off the calf and keeping her and selling the mama which is why I had the questions, along with wondering if I should have done something different last year.

If I had a goat to milk, which I will have next year, I wouldn't have worried as much as trying to rear one on milk replacer.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03/30/11, 11:56 AM
spinandslide's Avatar  
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: northwest Texas
Posts: 655
Quote:
Originally Posted by sammyd View Post
We feed a quality milk replacer for about 8 weeks. We provide access to a 16 or 18% calf starter grain within a week as well as fresh water daily.
No cutting feed with oats or even bothering with hay until after weaning.

You need to get the rumen developed and ready to work quickly. The calf on a cow has access to high protein high fat stuff for many months, and unless you want to drop a bundle in milk replacer your bottle calf won't. The only way to compete with the milk is high quality, higher protein feeds.

Personally other than an occasional runt bought in at 60 pounds we've never had a bottle calf I would consider an underachiever.
this is excellent advice.

My foray into bottle calf-ism was a crash course..my first bottle calf contracted coccidylios and almost died. she was definantly smaller then she should have been..but at 1 1/2 years, she shot up and she is now perfectly normal looking, in fact, one of our better cows, as far as conformation goes..and expecting her first calf within the month.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03/30/11, 03:38 PM
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 31

We are bottle feeding our first calf as we speak, so I am no expert. However, I have looked in to this extensively and I know it can be done. We bought 4 bred cows in February and one calved twin heifers last Monday. Mama rejected one and is mothering the other. I talked to the man we got our cows from and he said if you feed them smaller feeding more frequently you have a much better chance of getting them to normal size. I guess he had his first bottle calves much like we did. One of his cows had twin boys and rejected both. They fed the calves twice a day and they never got to the size of their other bulls or steers. Since then, if they have to bottle feed they do 3 to 4 smaller feedings a day.

Our little heifer has gotten 4 feedings a day from day one and it has been tricky. She is small (around 50 lbs) and while a good sucker, she had trouble with the nipple (had to go to a lamb nipple) and she ended up getting scours. Even though we were feeding her 4 small feedings a day. She is doing beautifully now (she is 8 days old). The vet put her on an antibiotic and we have been switching every other feeding with electrolytes. Bless her heart, she downs every bottle, especially the milk replacer, every feeding. Oh and I am finding that a good MR is also very important. We bought some from TSC and it ended up being mostly soy, medicated, etc., etc. A local farmer friend let us buy a bag of "good" milk-based MR off him and so far so good!

Julie

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03/30/11, 03:55 PM
Oakshire_Farm's Avatar  
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CANADA
Posts: 909

I have figured that the thing with bottle calves is to be very careful about the amount you are feeding them. It is easier to keep then almost under fed, and over feed and have them get scours. Scours are a pain and I find they kick the snott out of a calf and that was my biggest problem with them. I bottle feed for the first week or so, then get them onto a bucket. I have a 5gal bucket with my milk in it. I have a 1/2 gal (or 2lt) ice cream tub, that I use to portion the milk.

I have tried many methods of calf raising and this is by far the best! I have hay in the feeder they can nibble on it as they like, when they want and a tub with grain in it they can graze as they want. I have 3 pens set up right now, holstein and a Jersey bull calf in one pen right now and my 2 little Jersey X Dexters in the other pen, and 2 holstein x angus in the other. I rotate them around as they grow. I have to go pick up 4 more holstien bulls in the next day or two. I have had upwards of 15 calves at a time.

__________________

Follow life on our little farm
http://oakshire_farm.webs.com/

or on facebook,
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Oakshi...71229649621415

Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03/31/11, 10:42 AM
spinandslide's Avatar  
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: northwest Texas
Posts: 655

for visual effect..
this was my bottle calf at the peak of her illness..(and I discovered I WAS overfeeding her as well..she got scours and then her weakened immune allowed the cocciydlious to come in)


and her just afew days ago

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03/31/11, 10:58 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 719

nice job.

__________________

Sold the farm no more critters
I have a postage stamp lot now
I aim to make it the most organic productive 1/3 acre in southwest Missouri
With a 20 acre plot to be added in 3 years or so

Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03/31/11, 12:46 PM
spinandslide's Avatar  
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: northwest Texas
Posts: 655

thank you.
she earned me a reputation with my vet..although I did everything I could, it was some miracle she did not die...she should have as bad off as she was. go figure.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03/31/11, 03:38 PM
Dariy Calf Raiser
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: missouri
Posts: 2,004

my answer would be to your question....if you compare at 3 months NO...IF COMPARE AT 1 YEAR YES..and at 2 years unable to tell the difference...if they are growed right

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 03/31/11, 05:47 PM
bknthesdle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 1,708

Thank you for the reference picture. She looks lovely!

Well it looks like I will end up with a bottle calf after all. But not in the way I wanted. Went out this morning to the pasture to check the cows and their calves and we found one of our first time heifers dead. Not sure if she got on her back or not. She left behind a 3 week bull calf. We will bring him up to the barn and I'll bottle feed him. Since I have bottle lambs he will just go on their feeding schedule and be feed 3-4 times a day.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 04/01/11, 10:21 AM
Chixarecute's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Wisconsin by the UP, eh!
Posts: 2,861

Quality (more expensive) milk replacer is the key, if you cannot feed fresh. Higher protein, low fiber, the right amount of milkfat. The better milk replacer pays off - better growth, stronger health, quicker transition to real feed.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 04/01/11, 11:23 AM
spinandslide's Avatar  
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: northwest Texas
Posts: 655

OP-sorry to hear of your heifer..that is my fear..I have two heifers this year..I always worry about them. I hope to be able to post pics of the ex-bottle calf's calf soon..she looks like she is getting close to calving! thanks for the compliments..she is my pride and joy..LOL

I agree with a QUALITY milk replacer..and I never used the "medicated". friend of mine who has raised many a bottle calf says it will give alot of them scours..

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 04/01/11, 11:47 AM
bknthesdle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 1,708

Thank you for the condolences. She was a heifer that we had raised. Just had her second birthday. She was a nice calm cow and a good mother. It's been heartbreaking to lose her. Thankfully her 17 day old calf has had a good start and took to the bottle last night with minimal fuss. I am hoping with the advice I received here will help me continue with the good growth he experienced on his mom. Wish I had a milk cow or goat that I could use over milk replacer.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 04/03/11, 02:42 PM
bknthesdle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 1,708

Thought I would post a pic of my orphan. Decided to call him Flynn. His mother died in pasture when he was 17 days old.

__________________
Reply With Quote
Reply



Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:39 PM.