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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, so I am relatively new to raising bottle calves. It was something we did when I was a kid and I am well out of practice. I have to bottle babies, a 3 week angus heifer and a week old Holstein steer.
Both of them I have been feeding 3x/day a 2qt bottle. After every feeding they both seem to want more!

Am I not feeding them enough? I don't want them to get scours. My little angus was really touch and go the first week or so, I don't want to set her back. The Holsteins a beast, he just wants to eat!!

Thanks in Advance!
 

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I do not believe in the usual way of raising bottle calves. The reason for that is because I know when we milked beef cows for family consumption, we always got at least 2 gallons of milk from them and these girls were not outstanding milkers. It, therefore, stands to reason that their calves would be getting at least 2 gallons of milk a day. The first thing I would do is introduce a good calf starter or COB(corn, oats, and barley mixed with a little molasses) to these calves. Poke a little bit in their mouth after every bottle feeding to help them get the idea of what solid food is and what to do with it. If you have another calf of comparable age that knows what grain is and what to do with it, put him in with them at feeding time. Another option is to give some thought to buying a bag of AS70 - it is a medicated feed that smells and tastes like licorice, the last time I bought a bag(2008) it was $11 and change, and is invaluable(IMHO) in getting a bottle calf started on eating solid feed. The 2nd thing I would do is increase their bottles by a 1/2 pint/feeding each day until they were up to 2 gallons a day of milk. If their manure starts to get loose, back them off to where they were until it firms back up, then increase by another 1/2 pint.

ETA: Are you feeding them hay? If so, what kind and how much per day? Both of these calves are old enough to be eating hay.
 

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Sound advice right here. Stimulating rumen development in the first month is crucial to young calves. It will influence their growth quickly. Google "rumen development in newborn calves" and read some of those articles. Our calves are eating hay within the first couple weeks. We do not feed grain (though I'd like too) per the farm owners request, but being on just milk is the worst thing you can do for rumen development compared to a milk/hay or milk/grain diet.

I do not believe in the usual way of raising bottle calves. The reason for that is because I know when we milked beef cows for family consumption, we always got at least 2 gallons of milk from them and these girls were not outstanding milkers. It, therefore, stands to reason that their calves would be getting at least 2 gallons of milk a day. The first thing I would do is introduce a good calf starter or COB(corn, oats, and barley mixed with a little molasses) to these calves. Poke a little bit in their mouth after every bottle feeding to help them get the idea of what solid food is and what to do with it. If you have another calf of comparable age that knows what grain is and what to do with it, put him in with them at feeding time. Another option is to give some thought to buying a bag of AS70 - it is a medicated feed that smells and tastes like licorice, the last time I bought a bag(2008) it was $11 and change, and is invaluable(IMHO) in getting a bottle calf started on eating solid feed. The 2nd thing I would do is increase their bottles by a 1/2 pint/feeding each day until they were up to 2 gallons a day of milk. If their manure starts to get loose, back them off to where they were until it firms back up, then increase by another 1/2 pint.

ETA: Are you feeding them hay? If so, what kind and how much per day? Both of these calves are old enough to be eating hay.
 

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We feed hundreds of bottles calves a year . Jersey and smallish holstins get 1.5 quarts 2 x a day holstins get 2 at 2x a day give them access to free choice clean water hay and a good 16% calf ration from day one keep the feed fresh because at first they won't eat much , over feeding milk causes lots of problems ,
 

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I have read, in Hoard's Dairyman I believe, that because a calf gets milk from a bottle so much quicker than from the cow their suckling instinct isn't satisfied. Much like a human baby will suck its thumb or a pacifier. They recommended leaving the bottle there for the calf to suckle for awhile longer that instinct will be satisfied. Though I have also read that suckling air from an empty bottle isn't the best for them either. It sounds as though they are getting enough milk, I'd just give them forage as suggested above.
 

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@calfkeeeper,

When Bubba was on the bottle, he was going through 3 bottles at the end. We had two old bottles that someone had cheated open, and one new bottle that was stubborn. We always made sure he got the stubborn bottle first to work up his saliva into a frothy mess. He could chug the other two like a frat bro. If I weren't $cheap$, I'd get all new bottles.

Our progression from birth to 4 months was 2 qts leading up to 6.
 

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we start at 1.5 qts. 2x a day and work to 3qts. 2x a day. I have 3 3qt. bottles.
 

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How much milk they get is really up to you. Our organic vet recommends a gallon twice a day and it should take at least 20 minutes for the calf to drink it. Most folks like to open up the end of the nipples so things progress quicker and with less head butting, but that isn't the best way to do things.
You should have fresh water and starter grain available free choice by the at least the 2nd week. This will help cut down on the "hungry calf" problem as they have something to fill up on.
Nothing stimulates rumen growth better than water and grain. Leave the hay out of the equation till after weaning, it doesn't do anything but cut down on the amount of grain the calf can eat. It does not promote rumen growth. The old myth about scratch factor is just that, a myth.
http://extension.psu.edu/animals/da...e-importance-of-grain-in-developing-the-rumen
http://www.milkbar.co.nz/RearHealthyCalves/DevelopingtheRumen.aspx
 

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Dumb bottle question, are you supposed to open up the vent on the nipple? We bought a calf for our experienced neighbor raise for us. The first week we fed her, then moved her to his farm. It took quite a while for her to drink the bottle, since it air locked. The neighbor opened up the vent at the base of the nipple, now she drinks it fast, but you have to periodically cover that vent or milk runs out. This makes it impossible to use a bottle holder without spilling milk. Did we open the vent too much?

It doesn't matter anymore on this calf, since she is drinking from a bucket now, and is being weaned from replacer. We want to get a few bull calves, so I am curious. Thanks
 

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I know a lot of people feed their calves by letting/training them to drink from a bucket, but it really isn't a good idea. The reason for that is because when a calf nurses from their mother a flap of skin called the esophageal groove closes in their throat and directs the milk to their abomasum(true stomach) instead of their rumen which isn't designed for milk. The rumen is designed to hold foodstuffs that require more thorough chewing later on - which is why ruminants chew their cud. I'm not trying to tell you how to raise your calves - just giving you a little something to think about. :)
 

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@Bja, perhaps not a total vacuum, but you want them to draw it out, not drink it out. If they are making fluffy meringue milk beards when they suck, you've got it right. Try to park the vent whole over her nose to see if you can block it some.
 

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I have read, in Hoard's Dairyman I believe, that because a calf gets milk from a bottle so much quicker than from the cow their suckling instinct isn't satisfied.
The suckling instinct is never satisfied with a bottle baby because the baby is put on our schedule instead of what nature intended. That is exactly why bottle babies tend to suck on fingers, clothes, each other's ears/tails, and why they are so obnoxious and needy.
 

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I know a lot of people feed their calves by letting/training them to drink from a bucket, but it really isn't a good idea. The reason for that is because when a calf nurses from their mother a flap of skin called the esophageal groove closes in their throat and directs the milk to their abomasum(true stomach) instead of their rumen which isn't designed for milk. The rumen is designed to hold foodstuffs that require more thorough chewing later on - which is why ruminants chew their cud. I'm not trying to tell you how to raise your calves - just giving you a little something to think about. :)
the esophageal groove is not a flap of skin it basically an opening surrounded by muscles that closes to allow milk to enter the abomasum rather than the rumen. The closure is due more to sensory stimulus than physical position.
While bucket feeding may let more milk into the rumen I think it's from the sheer volume and if you are slitting the nipples on a bottle you can end up with the same problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks everyone.

I have changed the feeding to 2qt twice a day, they have always had access to fresh water and hay, but soon after I posted this I started giving them grain. They now eat a good amount of grain and are growing like weeds. Also started grazing! They seem very healthy and happy.
 

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Feed water all they want to drink in the bottle after milk replacer grain and hay free choice. The water helps stop the urge to suck.
 
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