How to start a bottle calf on hay

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by stifflej, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. stifflej

    stifflej Well-Known Member

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    I am bottle feeding my first calf, and she is doing well. She is four weeks old now, and I would like for her to start eating some hay, but she is not interested. I built a little hay rack for her, and have hay in it 24x7, but she doesn't seem to want it, and has yet to touch it? Is there something I should be doing to get her to start to eat it? I feed her 2 quarts of MR twice a day, and a little bit of calf manna, which she just picks at (eats less then a pound a day). The calf is a Hereford. Is there anything I should be doing differently?

    Thanks.
     
  2. lonelyfarmgirl

    lonelyfarmgirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    no, do nothing differently. just make sure the hay is fresh and clean, rather than musty smelling. you might go pick some grass or weeds and put that in the hay rack also. she will eat when her body is ready. Its an instinct thing.
     

  3. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    forget the hay get her going on grain.
    Grain is what gets the rumen working so that it can process the hay.
    Save the hay till she's weaned. Shouldn't have to "teach" her about that, she should get on it with no problem.
     
  4. francismilker

    francismilker Udderly Happy! Supporter

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    I keep feed, hay, water, and minerals in front of them. (usually from day one) They figure it out eventually. Some are quicker than others. When the calf wants/needs the hay, they will get to it. Just keep feed, hay, and water changed daily. Don't put too much feed and hay in the pen because you'll have a lot of wastes if you're replacing it each day. (makes good goat and chicken feed)

    BTW, a pound of calf manna is quite a lot in my opinion. She ought to be getting her protein needs met with that small amount if it's the stuff I'm thinking about. (small pink pellets that are about 20% protein and 20% fat content)

    When I feed my calves cheapo sweet feed with about 1/4 the nutrition value I shoot for having them eat four lbs. per day. Just my two cents.
     
  5. lonelyfarmgirl

    lonelyfarmgirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    you should not have to feed grain at all. cows are grass eaters. with a little calf manna, and the milk replacer, plus minerals, you dont need what the grain gives. I highly encourage you NOT to go the grain route.
     
  6. Calfkeeper

    Calfkeeper Chief Bottle Washer

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    I concur with everyone above; she'll eat hay when she's ready. Some do much earlier than others.
     
  7. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    No green grass available? They nipple grass around three weeks old...Topside
     
  8. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    I always feed grass hay way before I ever start feeding grain, I have very good luck with this. I`m with lonelyfarmgirl on this one, get them going on hay first, then on some grain. I like feeding oats as my grain with a bit of corn and pellets in it. Just keep fresh hay in front of your calf, they eat when they are ready. >Thanks Marc
     
  9. ladycat

    ladycat Chicken Mafioso Staff Member

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    Ditto.

    Some start nibbling when they're awfully little; others are late bloomers. Never try to force them. They will pick their own right time.
     
  10. LibertyWool

    LibertyWool Well-Known Member

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    I have to totally disagree with you. It has been proven that feeding grain helps the rumen develop faster, which is important if you are bottle feeding (Both economically and time wise).

    This is a link about it:

    http://www.das.psu.edu/research-extension/dairy/nutrition/calves/resolveuid/c5fe161d7fff47680d5e168ed59a9f81
     
  11. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, you are totally wrong about this.
    There have been many studies that show grain and fresh water are exactly what is needed to get the rumen big and sturdy so that when she starts hitting the hay hard she will be able to fully utilize it.
     
  12. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    I think this is the first time I have disagreed with Sam. To each his own I guess, we have never been big grain feeders. I have no idea what study you have read, but there are alot of things that have studies that I don`t go by. I also don`t feed alfalfa hay to calves, unless it has been rained on once. Just what works for me.>Thanks Marc
     
  13. lonelyfarmgirl

    lonelyfarmgirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    thats very interesting, since we are 100% grass-fed and have been for years. we have herefords, and hereford/angus, pinzgauer, and some other bigger beef breeds. We never feed our calves or cows grain, and their rumens develop just fine. they are big, fast growing and beautiful, and the finished meat is tender and excellent, regardless of the age of the animal.

    grain, corn especially, creates an acid condition to the flesh, which is why a grain fed steer must be butchered around 18 months, otherwise the flesh is tough.

    Now, feeding grain will finish the animal a year sooner, but is it more worth it to rush and get fatty, acidic, tough meat, or feed that animal naturally, save the cost of buying feed, and get a healthier, more tender product?
     
  14. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    do you leave your calves on the cow?

    grain does not create an acidic condition in the meat.
    That's a totally new lie that I've never heard before.

    If you have to lie to sell your stuff it must be next to worthless.....
     
  15. stifflej

    stifflej Well-Known Member

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    Wow, amazing how a question from a new calf raiser (unexpected at that) will start the grain/no grain argument. Which, BTW, was not the intent of this post. I do however, feed grain all year when raising my feeders.
     
  16. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    for us it boils down to getting them up and out so we can get a new batch in.
    After looking around the net and reading some off the net we discovered that pushing the grain and water and holding back on the hay will increase the growth and development of the rumen letting us wean on time every time.
    When we are buying 60 dollar bags of milk replacer or when we are using our goats milk to feed out calves it is important to us to hold down costs and have a good throughput of animals.
    We typically wean at 8 weeks and the last batch weaned in 7.
    They are fat and healthy out on their pasture and we are able to bring in a new batch that much sooner. More batches per year=more money in the pocket.
     
  17. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    LOL what do you think calf manna is?

    Soybean meal, corn, hominy feed, feeding oatmeal,

    hmmmmmm grain......
     
  18. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    From the moderator. This post has been brought to the attendion of the forum board as becoming not 'nice'. Personally I don't see a problem with the put and take as long as it is kept friendly. I'm not going to lock the thread. Will just keep an eye on it.

    Just be civil to each other. We all have our own points of views.
     
  19. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    I sure would keep grain in front at all times. Hay just let it stay there the calf will start to nibble on it in time, but the main thing is get him started on good calf starter Grain~!
    And keep hi on the grain, throughout his life.
    Then what I have been doing for the past 20 years is feed nothing BUT Grain for the last 4 months to butcher time~!
    Makes fine nice tender meat.
    I keep grain in front of my calves 24/7 and they get nothing but grain at the end.
    Grain fed in IMO is not only better tasting but is so tender you don't even need a sharp knife.
    The toughest steak from my steers have been from those that have only had grass and hay to finish them out, never will I ever do such a thing again.
     
  20. springvalley

    springvalley Family Jersey Dairy Supporter

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    I have no Idea why anyone thought this was getting not so nice, just a differance of opinion. Smile everyone. >Thanks Marc