How to wean a bottle calf?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by SCRancher, May 3, 2012.

  1. SCRancher

    SCRancher Well-Known Member

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    How do you wean a bottle calf?

    I have a calf that was born 3/18, has received milk 1 gallon per day from a dairy for 1 month and been on 1 gallon per day of MR since that time so the calf is now 46 days old. He's on lush pasture with the rest of the herd and may be stealth nursing from other cows in the herd but that's not certain.

    So when and how do I go about weaning him onto grass - I don't want to feed him grain or rations if at all possible.
     
  2. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    If you wean him to grass @ just say 8 weeks old he'll lose a tremendous amount of weight instantly and will be sick/die in no time. If he's not getting milk then he needs grain's proteins, fats, carbs, and fiber to grow. Most calf/cow cattleman will not wean their calves till 6-8 months old. Mama cow gaves the calf everything it needed, grass only helped....Topside
     
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  3. SCRancher

    SCRancher Well-Known Member

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    Topside1 - Yea I leave my calves with their mama - replacement heifers I don't separate at all - the baby bulls I need to sell or separate soon so one doesn't catch an open cow while my Herd Bull is not looking.

    What I am looking for is what age should I wean this bottle beef calf and how do I go about doing it. I'm not looking to kill the rascal - my son had plans to show him (we'll see) and after that since he's basically a pet I figure I will put him with my uncle (in-law) cows at my FIL's place. He has an inbred bunch of cows there because he basically does nothing with them. It was not until last year when I offered to band the bulls that were thrown that I think we can start to clean the herd up a bit. I figure we'll sell the current bull when this bottle bull (Buckey Mars Legend) is old enough to take it's place.

    Now if I could just convince my Uncle-in-law to sell the steers - after all they are doing is eating what little is there.
     
  4. ramiller5675

    ramiller5675 Well-Known Member

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    If your son plans on showing him, doesn't that mean that the calf will get fed some sort of ration at some point anyway? So why would you not want to feed any grain ration?

    And, if you plan on using him as a bull at some point (I'm not so sure that a bottle fed calf would make the best or safest bull, but that's just my opinion), isn't he also going to need a certain amount of feed while he is growing?

    I have NO experience with bottle feeding orphan calves, but if it was me, I would turn him into a steer (probably after he was older so he isn't stressed too much what with the whole bottle feeding/weaning problem), keep supplementing him by bottle feeding him until he was about 3-4 months old, then let the cow herd raise him until he could be sold with the rest of the calves.

    Or, slowly cut back back on the bottle and just let the herd raise him (if he is in fact stealing milk).
     
  5. suzyhomemaker09

    suzyhomemaker09 Well-Known Member

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    I've bought bottle bull calves from Emily on a couple of occasions...( Ozarkjewels) I've raised them on excess goat's milk and wean them off the bottles around the same age I do goat kids...4 months. At that time they should be chewing on grass and know completely how to eat something that is not a bottle. I do not grain at all...every beef I've raised has been all grass fed.
     
  6. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

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    So there you have it, go with 4 months old....plus Suzy raised dairy steers that don't grow nearly as quick as beef breeds. Just so anyone new doesn't get confused: a bottle fed calf will begin chewing on fresh grass blades @ 3 weeks old, but that by no means means he can be weaned. I like the comment made in post # 4.....Topside