How do you know how much to feed a bottle calf?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by blessingsfarm, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. blessingsfarm

    blessingsfarm Member

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    My son purchased a Charolais bull calf that lost it's mother from a local farm. The calf is very large and I am afraid we are not feeding him enough. When he was about four days old we upped his milk to 3qts twice a day. He also drinks some water from the calf bucket. I don't want to over feed and run the risk of scours, but I want the calf to grow well. How do we decide how much to feed him? We have been providing Calf Manna but he isnt eating it very well yet. He is almost two weeks old now. Thanks!:kung:
     
  2. gone-a-milkin

    gone-a-milkin Well-Known Member Supporter

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    He will learn to eat his grain.

    Dont just keep upping his milk. 3 quarts twice a day should be plenty for a 2 week old calf.
    Are you putting the grain in his mouth right after feeding him his bottle?
    Do that every single time. Kind of get his head in that bucket and scoop some into his mouth.
    One day he will just click that it is also food.

    It is okay for him to ACT hungry at feeding time and for awhile after he finishes that bottle.
    That is a sign that he is healthy.
    Sounds like you are off to a good start.
     
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  3. Valmai

    Valmai Well-Known Member

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    If you are willing to convert kilos and litres to pounds and pints there is a graph on this page which will help, provided you know the weight of your calf.
    Milkbar - Product Page
     
  4. SCRancher

    SCRancher Well-Known Member

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    I am feeding an Angus bull calf 1 gallon of raw whole milk per day + what ever he can suck from his mama twice a day when I pen her up and force her to let him nurse.

    He has been on a gallon a day from day 2 till now - just over 2 weeks old.

    I let him nudge around in the sweet feed/corn bucket occasionally also but he doesn't really get eating yet.

    I have seen him also drink water from the trough.

    I'm not sure when to up his ration but I am hoping his mama will accept him - fading hope at best.
     
  5. Waiting Falcon

    Waiting Falcon Well-Known Member

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    I fed my big Simmental Gurnsey bull calf 2 gallons a day and he was still hungry. He was eating 5 lbs a day early on and since we had the milk we gave to him for 4 months.
    He was large framed and it took a lot to fill him up.
     
  6. Cliff

    Cliff Well-Known Member

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    You get scours by upping the amount too fast not necessarily by the total amount fed. Also bottle calves tend to scour from illness a lot.
    Calves grow much better if fed more than the commonly recommended amounts. Those recommendations are more of a "keep em alive with the pia bottle feeding till you can get them on grain" thing.
    Also, more frequent feedings than are commonly recommended are better for growth and health. Again, those recommendations are for the convenience of the farmer, not what is the absolute best for the calf. The closer you can get to the way the calf would eat if it were with it's mother the healthier the calf will be. Filling a calf's stomach to bursting twice a day is pretty unnatural. Their bodies aren't designed to be fed that way.
    I know we have some dairy farmers here who may disagree. That's fine, I'm just sharing my personal observations from years of calf raising under differing conditions. I also know not everybody has the time and $ to feed more than the recommended times/amts. That's fine too, a live calf is way better than a dead one. Their growth will eventually catch up with what it would've been if they were fed better. Sometimes it takes a couple years but they do catch up.
    Be careful and don't let anyone play with the calf. At all. Don't ever let it butt you or even push against you with it's head. Bottle fed bulls can be really dangerous when they get bigger.
     
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  7. blessingsfarm

    blessingsfarm Member

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    Thanks for all of the input! I like the idea of feeding him more naturally, like he would get from his mother. However, no one is home in the middle of the day. We are thinking about maybe cutting back on his evening feeding a little and feeding him as soon as we get home from school and then again at dark. I dont want to wait two years for him to catch up to his potiential. He is a very large calf and I would like to see him make an exceptional bull.
     
  8. Cliff

    Cliff Well-Known Member

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    If you do that start out giving him just a little bit and work up slow. They don't deal well with fast changes. If you add another feeding I'd make the late feeding as late as I could too we usually go out with a flashlight just before bed. Lol see why the twice a day feeding is easier?
    Charolais cattle can be high strung and dangerous all on their own - we actually got rid of the last of ours a few years ago because it was just more dangerous to work them than our other cattle.
    Again please please don't you or your kids make a pet out of this bull. Bottle calves don't have the same respect for people as dam raised cattle do. They think they are one of us and try to play with us. That is cute when they are babies, not so much when you have a 3000 pound bull stomping you into the ground. Making a pet out of a charolais bottle bull is a good way to get yourself killed.

    ETA: What do you plan on doing with him long term? Charolais don't generally make good homestead bulls because homesteaders tend towards keeping smaller cows. Charolais throw huge calves, they are known for this trait. Can cause major trouble for small cows. The price of cows is amazingly high right now, I would consider taking him to the sale barn when he's weaned and eating well. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to throw a damper on things, I can tell you are excited to have the calf. Just wouldn't feel right about it if I didn't share what I know - I'd wonder if something bad might happen because you didn't have the information. Good luck with the calf :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
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  9. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    I feed my calf some milk replacer all the time. Even the day he gets loaded in the trailer to go to the butchers. He gets milk.
    I like my steers to be very gentle and tame. So when I get a calf a week old I HOLD the bottle while he is drinking. I may not switch him to a bucket till a month old. That way he knows me, respects me, and is tame the rest if his short life. LOL

    With my RA and very bad reflexes and bad ankles I have to have very tame and easy to handle, not only when they are small calves but what they grow to weigh close to 1K pounds as a steer.

    LOL I remember I year I brought my steer to the butcher, backed him out of the trailer LED him up the ramp, Even Before the other handlers came out to help me~!! LOL
    They said they were surprised at what I did cause they have seen not so tame ones get loose and start running down the street. I would not have an animal around that would not "Listen" to me! And feeding them like I do milk as a treat and hands on like I do makes them a better calf when they get older.
    And I use Jerseys as IMO they are the easiest to tame and literally make pets out of. LOL
    Why I steer was so tame he would have followed me right into the house. LOL and I start hater breaking them Immediately as I get them. Just like I would any horse that I have trained.
     
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  10. Cliff

    Cliff Well-Known Member

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    Mmm Jerseys steer meat is the best.