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Jersey Calf Not Wanting Grain

2049 Views 30 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  topside1
I have posted this on another site, but I thought people here may have more suggestions, and/or may have had this problem in the past. I raise sheep, and have zero experience with cows.

I bought a "weaned" Jersey heifer on July 8th. Supposedly, she was eating plenty of grain, and had been off milk for two weeks. She was born April 1, so a little over 3 months old. She seemed healthy and alert, and weighed about 110-115 lbs.

The problem began when we realized she was eating less than a pound of grain per day. We tried two different types of calf starter (including what she was eating at the seller's place), regular sweet feed, alfalfa pellets, crimped oats with molasses, molasses poured on the feed, etc. The vet said she should have been eating 2 lbs of grain per day to even be weaned. She eats plenty of grass, and we have lots of it. When I spoke to the seller about it, they admitted that she ate with the other calves and cows, so they were not really sure how much she was eating, and while she was separated from her mother, they could not be sure she was not stealing milk from another cow (they had several nurse cows in the pasture).

We became concerned when she began losing a little weight, so after a week, we put her back on a bottle. She acted like she was starving, so we kept her on 2 qts, 2x/day for a couple of weeks. Her grain intake improved, and she was eating between 1.5 and 2.5 lbs per day. So, upon advice, we started reducing milk intake, and took her off entirely 3 days ago. The problem is, that instead of grain intake going up with reduction of milk intake, it's been the exact opposite.

She has reduced her grain intake in the past 3 days since no milk to 1.7 lbs, then 1.5, and only 12 oz last night. I give her free access to grain all day, but she will not eat it while out on grass, only when in a stall at night.

I guess my question is, should I keep her on a bottle? She is now 18 weeks old. Should I be concerned about her lack of interest in grain? She has been vaccinated, wormed, and is active and alert. I am not sure if she will start losing weight again, but everything I read, and everyone I talk to says she should be eating at least 3 lbs of grain until she is at least 6 months old in order to grow properly. She does not have worms, and no temp, although she did cough a bit when she drank her milk in the beginning, but we fed her more slowly, and that stopped. But it is one of the reasons I really don't want to put her back on a bottle, but will if necessary. The cost of the milk replacer is not a problem. I just want her to grow well and be healthy.

She now weighs 142 lbs, and comes from a smaller Jersey cow.

Any advice about how to get her to eat grain, whether or not it's important that she does, or if I just need to keep her on a bottle until she is 6 months old would be greatly appreciated.
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Hmmm.... I want to suggest probiotics but honestly have no clue if that would help or not
I'm personally one of those people who likes to wean later and not earlier.
If you feel like she will benefit from later weaning then definitely follow your instinct.

Probiotics certainly won't hurt...kind of half wondering if it's a digestive issue of some kind? What's the status on worms and worming? Your first post does say she's wormed but it's worth considering.
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Some people like to wean their calves way young, at 8 or even in some instances 6 weeks. I get that milk replacer is expensive but think that's a bit young for weaning
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