Leaving calves on Holsteins - will this work?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by willow_girl, May 9, 2005.

  1. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    When my Jersey, Dawnna, calved last year, I left her calf on her. I'd let her out in the morning and milk in the late afternoon, then put the calf with her for the night. Seemed to work out just fine ...

    When my Holsteins calve next month, I'd sure like to let them keep their babies by their sides, too. But I worry about the calves getting too much milk. Dawnna was not a high-production cow, but the Holsteins (especially Twister) will be! I know bottle calves have to be restricted in how much they're fed; will a calf left on a Holstein giving 100 lbs a day suffer any ill effects?

    (Of course, I'll be milking the Holsteins, too ... I know the calves won't use up ALL the milk!)
     
  2. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    I'd sure give it a try. You may have to keep an eye on the calf the first few days and you may even have to milk some twice a day. Don't milk her out completely; just enough to keep her from getting mastitis and overfeeding the calf. Then slowly cut back on the amount of milk you take and the cow will adjust her production to what you and the calf take.
     

  3. pygmywombat

    pygmywombat Well-Known Member

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    I've never seen (nor heard of) a calf having any troubles when left on mom from birth. They take what they need and leave the rest. You'll probably have to milk 2x a day for the first few weeks. After that you can switch to once a day. Don't worry about leaving milk for the calf, milk the cow out totally at each milking. She is always making more milk and the calf can get milk out that the cow won't let down for you.
     
  4. Christina R.

    Christina R. Well-Known Member

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    I kept Corabelle's calf on her. After getting tons of advice on all sides, I even decided to keep the calf with Corabelle all the time and still milked her. All worked fine!
     
  5. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    I'll tell you what I use to do.Get you 3 more Bottle Calves.Wean all 4,put 2 more on her,wean them before you dry her up.

    big rockpile
     
  6. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Id think the mother would regulate the calf, ours do it, they will walk away or lift their leg and then walk away. Calf leaves her alone, the mother cuts them off. But that is a holstein, and was milked so I'm not sure if the same would apply. We had a Jersey, did the same thing as you did, mother cut her calf off as well. As long as her instinct is strong, she should regulate the calf.


    Jeff
     
  7. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    I have share-milked both Jersey and Friesian with their calves and there is no reason at all as to why there should be a problem. Do the same as you did with Dawna, although as Pygmy suggests, milking twice a day to start with might be a good idea if they are high producers and you want to keep that production going.

    I also used to milk the cows right out. They're canny sods and if they have a calf on them, will hold back so there is always plenty for the calf plus what it gets during the time it is running with it's dam.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  8. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    I would be a little cautious with really high production bred holsteins. They'll probably need to be milked twice a day, plus a calf or two. Some of those girls give it there all and if you don't take it your in for trouble. On a farm I worked at they would turn the milking shorthorns back into beef cows if they didn't milk a lot or had deep udders. Generally each cow would have three jersey bulls stuck on her. Unfortunetly they would only drink from the fronts and cow would get mastitis and often died. Other times the young calves drank to much and scoured then died. Some of this was definately management but high producing bred cows definately cannot help but make a lot of milk. So my advice is to add calves and milk twice a day till production drops or the cow says enough. My Holstein heifer reared two calves without any trouble, and was only occassionlly milked ( to mean), she was very thin and took awhile to get her bred back. Luckily one surrogatre calf was a bull that matured very early.
     
  9. melwynnd

    melwynnd living More with Less!

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    Another thing to consider:

    Dairy cows aren't really bred to raise their own calves and can have a delicate udder. I don't put calves on my Jersey/Gurnsey cross because I've seen so many nurse cows with "broken" udders. You can see where the collagen strands that hold the udder up have been broken.

    Some calves are gentle with their cows and some are brutal butters. I don't know of any way to stop a butter, so I just milk my cow and feed the calves.

    Sherry
     
  10. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    The calfs also leave small scars and bite marks that would make momma a little more sensitive to you milking her.
     
  11. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Thanks everybody! :)

    I put a deacon calf on Christine right after I got her. In the beginning, he tried to butt her, but she taught him to ask nicely! (By clocking him in the head with her foot every time he butted!) After a couple days they worked it out -- he would go up to her udder and kind of lick his lips before he started nursing. Teeny did a good job of mothering him, and he nursed right up 'til he was sold a couple weeks ago at age 11 months!

    I'm not sure whether Twist will have any maternal instincts. This will be her 4th calf, but the other 3 were born at commercial dairies so she didn't get to raise them. I'm hoping she will be a good momma too!
     
  12. pygmywombat

    pygmywombat Well-Known Member

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    My Guernsey steer nursed until he was a year old. It was pretty amusing, as by then he outweighed his mother! She didn't stand for any abuse and would kick him and leave. He was very gentle as he got bigger.

    I think a nursing calf may actually improve udder health and longevity. Instead of being left to fill up for 12 hour periods the udder gets emptied at shorter intervals, putting less wear on the ligaments and keeping the milk flowing, reducing the risk of mastitis.