Bottle calf newbie question

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Rockin'B, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. Rockin'B

    Rockin'B Well-Known Member

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    I did a search and am not finding an answer....

    We just took delivery of 3 bottle calves that are ~ 3 weeks old. We've never had bottle calves before having always bought them at around 300 lbs. They are holstein X black Baldy calves.
    They are taking the bottle just fine but I am curious about what the selling farmer has been feeding.

    Thety have been given free choice alfalfa/grass mix and about a quart of sweet feed for all three each day. The calves are eating some hay and are eating the sweet feed up. The sweet feed is Sweet 18 calf starter.

    Is this the correct feed regimen for calves that are so young? I am concerned that alfalfa and sweet feed is too hot.

    Also, how much water would young calves like this drink?

    Thanks so much for any info. It's appreciated!
     
  2. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    Why don't you give the farmer a call, folks love to share information. If they were bought as a sale barn, well calling would be a bit more difficult but not impossible. As far as feed goes I would be using a calf starter/grower blend twice a day, two quarts should do for three calves. Water as much as they want. They should be grazing in a small paddock with hay available at night....John
     

  3. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    1) You should be feeding them about 8 to 10% of body weight in milk or milk replacer per day split into 2 feedings. Set a time 12 hours apart and stick with the time everyday. Try to make the replacer the same temp everyday.

    2) Allow the calf free access to all the clean water it wants. This is very important as most people think a calf gets enough liquid from its milk. That is not true and water is the key to getting a calf to eat feed.

    3) While I like to use a starter with molasses: I have been reading research that shows molasses does nothing to promote eating of feed. I do not know if I agree with this yet but I trust the source of the info. So it can be sweet but does not have to be. Just use a good calf starter and feed as much as they want. It is also a good idea to separate the calves so you can see who is eating what; and this also prevents ear and worse udder sucking.

    4) I have been using hay but once again I have been reading it may not be best. Research shows that feeding hay to calves less than 6 weeks old reduces feed intake. Since you are not in a intense calf raising situation and are not shooting for younger weaning dates I would recommend using a good hay as you mentioned free choice.

    5) Once your calves are eating 1.5 to 2 lbs of feed a day you can wean them. Intense weaning cuts this to 1 to 1.5 lbs a day but I would not recommend this to you.
     
  4. Rockin'B

    Rockin'B Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info.

    I was looking at the hay that the farmer sent along with the calves. It's actually all first cutting alfalfa.
    Wouldn't it be better to feed grass hay?

    Bottle calves sure do have a good case of the cutes!
     
  5. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    May I answer your question with a question?????????

    If you had a new born baby in your house........
    Would you feed it the BEST that you can afford??????????
    OR
    Would you feed it table scraps meant for the dog???????

    Now we both know what one you choose so lets go from there.......
    Look at # 4 again. The reason that research shows that a calf that receives hay does not do as well on it as one that gets only feed is the fact that hay has less protein than feed.
    Hence you can conclude that you should use the best hay available if at all.

    A baby calf has a small stomach so only small feed intake is allowed. This means you need to use the best feed you can buy.
    Yes you can go over board and provide to much protein with hot feeds like you are worried but you would need to use things like urea to do this.

    Yes they do.
    The problem with them is when they get
    a good case of the shoots!!!!!!!!
     
  6. Rockin'B

    Rockin'B Well-Known Member

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    John,

    Your point is understood.

    My concern is based on not having the knowledge about calves so young.

    I've had two events in the past related to livestock and them getting too rich of feed. One was a Reg. Nubian that broke down a fence and got into new alfalfa. She had to be put down.
    The second was a steer that grain intoxicated dureing the fattening process at the end. We were able to save him and all was well.

    I just did not want these calves to be fed something that was too rich for them and have them experience similar problems.

    Thanks for your help. It's much appreciated.
     
  7. swollen tongue

    swollen tongue Well-Known Member

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    sounds like all good information for those bottle calves.
     
  8. john in la

    john in la Well-Known Member

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    And I full well understand your concern for the calves well being.

    Now if the farmer was feeding them grass hay and you kept that up for the next few weeks and then all of a sudden wanted to change to alfalfa that would be a different story. Even cows can not adjust to this and get bloat.

    A young calf eats but it just passes right threw them at first undigested. As they eat more bacteria starts to grow that can digest the feed and hay.
    Since they do not eat a lot this is OK and they will adjust to the feed you give them.
     
  9. Rockin'B

    Rockin'B Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. I do appreaciate your input!!