9 wk old beef cross-eat hay?!? help

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Key, Sep 22, 2006.

  1. Key

    Key Well-Known Member

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    We have a single 9 wk old heifer calf (Angus cross) who is just off milk replacer, and she does not show any interest in the hay (good quality) or grass. She only wants to eat her 18% calf feed. I have been offering that to her free choice for several weeks, but I have also been trying to introduce her to the lovely pasture and hay. She is not interested. I usually try to raise my animals very naturally, so her lack of interest in any grass is starting to concern me. She is gaining weight and has tons of energy, but I want her rument o be healthy and grow into a nice cow that enjoys pasture as well. Any ideas? I literally put nice grass in her mouth sometimes...she will chew on it alittle but then lose interest. I also have tried to pasture her with a grazing friendly goat, so maybe she can 'learn" how to graze from the goat!?!? She learned to eat a maple branch from the goat though so I am turning my little calf that should graze into a browser like a goat. Help!
     
  2. DJ

    DJ Well-Known Member

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    She's a little young yet. She will figure it out.
     

  3. JulieLou42

    JulieLou42 Well-Known Member

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    My Jersey X bull steer/calf, 10 weeks old, has only had momma since day one, and hay since about day three. He took to it naturally. He tries to eat his mom's COB, but doesn't do very well at it, and tires of trying after about 10 minutes. His size is quite good for his age.

    When she's hungry enough, she'll go for it?
     
  4. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry but I have to disagree. By two weeks old a calf should be experimenting with grass, by four weeks it should be eating it and by 8 weeks it should be making up a large part of it's diet.

    How did you rear your calf - in a barn? If so, that will be the problem. It's never seen this green stuff before and has no idea what it's for and because you have always fed it, either milk or calf feed, it has the idea that's where food comes from.

    Leave it in the paddock and on a daily basis, start reducing the amount of calf feed but leave a little hay for it. Once it gets hungry enough it will start eating the grass and hay. Expect a little bit of a knock back in condition while the transition takes place.

    All my calves are reared in the paddock from day one - I have three small paddocks around the cowshed and they are moved every four or five days on to fresh grass. They do get hay and calf feed to help rumen development but by the time they are weaned at 10 weeks, grass is their staple diet.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  5. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Ordinarily mom would show them what to eat. Lacking mom the grass and hay is a mystery. I bottle raised two calves and both have had a time starting hay but I brought my own cow home at the very beginning to "teach" them that grass and grain were good to eat. At the time I had no hay. They are transferring to hay slowly at 3 months of age. It takes time without a teacher. My latest bottle calves immediately took a clue from the older calves and started on grain and grass quickly (they are already about two weeks). One of them came here knowing about hay and the older two started to nibble due to the younger ones interest.
     
  6. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    She is not to young for hay but according to newer research by the ag universities you are doing just fine.
    The old school in most of us tells us to feed hay from day one but from what I read newer research is showing better rumen development by withholding hay for the first 8 to 10 weeks and providing a total grain diet so I would not get overly concerned just yet.

    Now that she is 9 weeks old you need to start a hay diet for roughage. A 9 week old calf will do just fine on 2 lbs of grain a day. By limiting your grain and stopping the free choice you will make her hungry and she should experiment with the hay. Free choice of grain will make her fat anyway. Take the time to hand feed the hay for a while to show her it is food.

    Once she starts on the hay/grass feed it free choice and provide grain to keep up body condition. The grain needs to continue for about 9 months which by the way is the normal wean date from mom. Once she is 9 months old she will do fine on a total grass diet.
     
  7. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Hi John, I'm interested in these studies. They are bottle raised calves and the study is only about hay? Reason I ask is that getting my Jersey bull calf on grass at 6 weeks was the best thing that I could have done for him. His supposedly premium all milk protein, milk replacer was a constant source of scours. Never scoured after going on grass w/ a little grain supplement. And I also see week old calves in the field experimenting with grass and hay. Just wanted to clarify since any study doing with calf rumen development is very important. Thanks.
     
  8. Key

    Key Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all your repsonses. I feel alittle better now.....The calf is in pasture, but she comes in an enclosed area for the grain. I thought I was crazy to try to get her to learn from the goat, but maybe that idea wasn't so crazy after all. Maybe she will start to nibble more often if I give her alittle less grain. She also has the hay availble all the time as well. She has no interest in it. The goat will eat it, but the calf doesn't look twice at it. Her stools have been alittle loose, so I am guessing that she isn't getting enough roughage so that concerns me a bit. Or maybe an overdose of protein may cause loose stools?!? I actually have sat with her and picked grass to try to give her ideas about grazing. She ignores me.
     
  9. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    Lets get one thing clear before I start.
    I did not say I agree with the study but I have seen research to support the facts.
    It is just like the research that shows that adding molasses to a calf starter is not best. I find that my calves eat more; earlier with molasses. But then again I am just john doe calf raiser and do not have the college degrees the people behind this research have.

    Up North has also mentioned a no hay source from Wi.

    http://www.lsuagcenter.com/mcms/webtools/viewExternal.aspx?url=http://www.calfnotes.com/

    Check out #19. I have seen others but do not have links right now.
    Then you read #20 and it says to feed hay.
    ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    It has to do with the fact that hay is NOT a good source of energy. Feeding hay fills the calf and reduces grain intake so it reduces energy intake. I can see where this makes sense but I am still a hay feeding man for the reason you mention.
    On the other hand this research is for a intense feeding program and should most likely be over looked by the inexperienced homesteader.
    I was trying to show that if you had a calf that was eating a total grain diet at less than 8 weeks old you can see that it may not be a reason for concern.

    Most do not realize that WATER is the #1 key to weaning a calf. They think that a calf gets enough water from its milk. This is NOT TRUE. A calf should be given free choice water from day 1.
     
  10. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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    <<getting my Jersey bull calf on grass at 6 weeks was the best thing that I could have done for him.>>

    It was probably best getting him OFF the milk/replacer, more than getting him ON grass. Lots of dairy farmers wean at 4-6 weeks, onto calf starter and water.
     
  11. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the information John. I like to read what's out there on calf nutrition. Dcross, I wasn't aware dairy farmer's weaned and went straight to calf starter. Not something I care to imitate to be honest. Grass has to be a natural progression- if not I've no interest.
     
  12. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    when I was a kid, my mom used to spoon sugar onto lettuce to get us to eat salad.

    Can you dribble molassas on the hay for awhile?
     
  13. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The roughages come later, when their rumens have developed enough to digest it, around two months.