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We have three bottle calves, one of them was sickly but i think he was just constipated as he is much better now. I was told by our 4-h dairy leader to keep them penned up for at least a month in the barn, as he did't want them eating too much grass. I have a great pasture with lots of sunshine and shade, and i feel really bad about keeping them locked up in stalls all day. How could not getting excersize and sunshine be good for them?? I want to put them out there of a morning after thier feedings and bring them back in at night. He says they will stop drinking thier milk and eating thier starter if i do. What do you think?

Susan
 

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I think the only concern there is the possibility of over-indulgence in the grass causing bloat or upset rumens. Sunshine and fresh air are wonderful things - they get the chance to be running around and getting exercise. They will *not* stop eating the creep feed and drinking milk just because they're outside on the grass. How old are they? They should be exposed to either grass or hay - they'll start nibbling on it and that's really what you *want* for good rumen deveopment!

Someone correct me if I'm wrong here...but I'm nearly 100% positive that your 4H person doesn't know what they're talking about.

Sarah
 

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I don't see any reason why they couldn't go out on pasture. They won't stop drinking their milk and eating starter. Calves born out on pasture don't stop drinking their mamma's milk. Sunshine and excersise would be great for them. I would just start them out slow, maybe a few hours on pasture, increase the time slowly, so their bodies get used to the grass.

jennifer
 
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you know, what he said just didn't sound right to me. We raise dairy goats, and i know that you want that early development of the rumen. This man is soo nice, but i have to wonder on many of the things he said. He doens't think calves do well on goats milk, we raise two or three every year on excess milk and they always do better on that than replacer. He told us he was bringing my daughter a holstein calf, then brought us a jersey. Several things, if you ask once you get one answer, ask twice and you get another! I am going to introduce them to the pasture, and get the poor things out of the barn. Thanks
 

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I agree with the others, just introduce them to it slow, an hour or so a day. Watch closely for bloat (distended abdomen), especially if you have clover or alphalfa in the pasture. Also feed plenty of oats, they keep things loose inside.
 
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