Need advice on when to wean a bottle fed calf

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by phantompark, Nov 2, 2004.

  1. phantompark

    phantompark Well-Known Member

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    We have a 2 month old Highlander calf that we have been bottle feeding. She is getting 3 quarts 2 times a day. We want to wean her onto hay. I get mixed advice locally, most say put her on grain last month. So, what is a good age to wean a bottle fed calf? The other calves in the herd seemed to be completely weaned by 5 months (must be the horn nubs hurt). Should I just slowly drop the amount of milk for the next month or two or three? Thanks
     
  2. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    We normally only bottle feed for a week or two then get them on a bucket, they're lots easier to feed with a bucket.
    You should be ably to get them started with a calf starter grain at around three weeks, and leave hay out for it as well, both free choice.
    You can start cutting back the amount of milk by watering it down, just make sure it has access to good water all of the time.
    Just halfcut the milk content with water each time about every three, four days.
    At four months you can pretty much cut them loose and just go grain and hay, but be prepared for lots of noise for a little while, it will stop trust me, but its hard to ignore at times.
    It thinks your mom and will sound like an abandoned calf.
    Be careful starting with the grain a little bit goes a long way, don't overdo it to start with or you'll give them bloat, a general rule of thumb is when they reach five pounds of grain per day you can quit the milk or replacer.
    And they should be there by four or five months depending on how big they are.
     

  3. phantompark

    phantompark Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, I was thinking of dropping to one feeding and have done so. Now I can work on the watering down later on. She's only 2 months so I guess I have 2 more months or so?
    I was worried because we bought the cows last summer and a 3 month old calf didn't come with her mother. Long story. Anyways, she has always been smaller than everyone else so I didn't want to cause another "runt" by cutting the milk early.
     
  4. Valmai

    Valmai Well-Known Member

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    I always wean my calves according to weight and health. Beef breed you can wean at around 70 kg Friesian at 80- 88 kg Jersey at about 75kg.
    I would not water down the milk powder just reduce the amount you give.
    I give my calves access to calf meal from day 4. Just enough for them to get used to but dont expect them to eat too much until about 3 weeks. They should be well used to eating it before you even think of weaning them off the milk.
     
  5. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    Standard rule is to wean when the are consuming 10% bw in grain. This should be a high quality starter around 16% protein or more. Some place wean as young as 30 days Personally I wean closer to three month or when they come running dragging the hutch behind them. highlanders are probably slower to mature so take your time. Definate try to switch to a bucket since it is easier on you and they seem to eat out of a bucket earlier.
     
  6. Horace Baker

    Horace Baker Well-Known Member

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    I don't feed any grain to calves or cows, so to be sure the calves have the rumen development to handle an all forage diet, I bottle feed for 6-8 months, depending on the calf and the season.
     
  7. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    Horace...
    You bottle feed for eight months ???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You have miles more patience than I do, and probably very happy calves !!!!
     
  8. Horace Baker

    Horace Baker Well-Known Member

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    I milk the cows every day, so it isn't much extra trouble to feed a few bottles. I've tried to wean before 6 months, but without the grain, most just aren't developed enough to go on straight forage.
     
  9. Jim in MO

    Jim in MO Well-Known Member

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    A little off topic here sorry, but do you give your dairy cows any grain? How's your milk production? I'm wanting to open more pasture to let the girls have more graze so I can cut back on the grain but was thinking that would drop milk productions as well.

    Thanks for letting me but in.

    Jim in MO
     
  10. Horace Baker

    Horace Baker Well-Known Member

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    No, I don't feed any grain to the dairy cows, but I don't milk commercially and am willing to take what I get for milk. Sure, they'd give more milk with grain, but I don't have tillable land so would have to buy it. I try to feed good quality second cutting hay in the barn at milking to help them keep their condition up, and will put an individual cow on once a day milking if neccesary. It really doesn't cost me any more to keep the cows I milk than to feed the cows running cow/calf in the pasture.
     
  11. Valmai

    Valmai Well-Known Member

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    Jim here in NZ we do not give our cows grain, just grass. Of course in winter they get hay, baleage & silage etc. It depends on how many stock units your pasture can support & how many cows you have. Do you irrigate? NZ dairy farmers are among the best in the world (sorry, dont mean to sound smug...but we are very good at it) and if grain helped with milk production we would do it here.
     
  12. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    Yes Kiwi's are the champion graziers and low cost milk producers of the world. However I don't think you have access to cheap and abundant grain as us in the states. Many people there do supplement, but it is all about effentcies rather than the gotta make more milk mentalities of American farmers. North American dairy cows have had such intense selection for production that they have troubles without supplementing. In NZ and AU most herds are seasonal and only have 8 weeks or soo to conceive. Here it not unusual to have cows milking for 6 month to a year before settling. Not to be defensive sorry.
     
  13. Valmai

    Valmai Well-Known Member

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    I didnt take that as defensive. I'm quite interested in how you do it over there. Here cows have about 2 months off over winter and milk for 10 months (except for town supply) . Mating goes for more than 3 months. First AI for 3 cycles and then the bulls come in to catch the unmated cows. We go for 'efficiency of scale' :confused: whatever definition you use for that! I dont know about the cost of grain here compared with the US but if it were 'cost effective' Im sure it would be used. Do you house your cows? Is it the 'done thing' to put cattle in barns? What is the average size dairy herd, if there is any such thing as average? Im also interested in how you rear calves. I saw on another site where they reared 50,000 calves and housed & feed them individually, which leaves my gastted well and truely flabbered!!! That seems unnecessarily labour intensive. I will be setting up my own one person calf rearing operation next year, starting small but eventually have 300-400 a season and that will (hopefully) provide my annual income. I realise that most countries have more difficulties rearing livestock. We dont have any predators eg wolves etc probably less diseases, no FMD or mad cow or anthrax etc. When I read some of the threads about losing animals to coyotes etc. I am so relieved I dont have to cope with that.
     
  14. Valmai

    Valmai Well-Known Member

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    Just thought of something else.
    This year "once a day milking" has really caught on here. Which is more common over there, once or twice a day milking??
     
  15. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Around my part of Minnesota, they strive for 20,000 lbs of milk per cow per year (305 days milking per year). Many are trying 3 times a day milking, up from 2 times a day. Never heard of 1 time a day milking????

    Cattle are more on silage (whole corn plant & alfalfa), high moisture ear corn (corn & bits of cob put in a silo), and suppliments (minerals, soy meal, distillers byproducts from the ethanol industry, etc.) these days. Not so much just plain old grain any more - tho of course the high-moisture corn & corn silage is basically using the grain... A little bit of alfalfa bales & regular corn is used to balance out the ration. Can't think of anyone using grass hay other than for the dry cows....

    Dairies are splitting into 2 directions these days. Single family operations of 40-60 cows, growing into 120-200 cows. Or, the 3000-20,000 head mega-dairies.

    Some of the smaller operations are looking into grazing their cows on alfalfa - tho here in Minnesota we only have from middle of May until end of October to do so, the rest is winter - that is why we became more grain feeders, easier to store energy in grain than in hay for our long winters. Anyhow these folks are gaining a lot of info from the way you folks do things. These dairies kind of take off 2 months in winter, while the non-grazing dairies stager their cow cycles so the milking parlor is always full, always a few cows not being milked...

    That's a start from me. I'm not into dairy, but it used to be all around me. Government policies have pushed dairies in the USA to be very large & as far away from centeral USA as possible (relocating to California & Florida due to $$$ incentives).

    --->Paul
     
  16. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I work on two Jersey dairy farms. Our own family farm, where we are currently milking 19 (with four more animals to come in in the next week). We don't usually get above 20 head in the barn and usually had less in the witner because it is so labor intensive to keep their production up in the winter. The other dairy I work on is also Jersey (the two herds stem from one herd) and a few years ago they were averaging 60 head, but now are down to around 40.
    The two farms feed two different feeds but both pasture the animals as much and as long as possible, while supplementing with grain during milking. Our cows average a great deal more than theirs, but we also feed different grains, use Posilac, and feed each animal according to production and weight.
    We try to average 50 pounds a day per cow, but that varies. The school may average 25 pounds a day per cow. Their top producer right now is giving 50 pounds and our Slicker (Jersey/Norwegian Red cross) was producing 100 pounds at peak production (without Posilac) and is down to 70 pounds right now.
    We aim to have them bred back to calve at one year later but it doesn't always happe. We have some cows that milk for over a year and a half. We also dry some up early.

    As far as calf raising is concerned, we raise our own replacement animals. Tehy are penned separately and eventually penned together. Right now we are battling Johne's so they are fed milk replacer. Once we are clean again we hope to go back to feeding milk straight from the cows.

    Well, I need to get out to search for the two calves that may have hit the ground and the weather is getting worse, so I need to cut this short. I will be back and attempt to make some sense of what I wrote....
     
  17. Valmai

    Valmai Well-Known Member

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    Now that is interesting! So you have dry, empty and lactating cows all at the same time? Does your calving carry on virtually all year round? That would reduce or eliminate the pressure to get the cows up to condition for mating within a very narrow time frame, I like that!! :) You say you have 19 cows milking at the moment, how many do you have altogether? How can you make any income on 19 cows???? Do you have other income producing activities? I cant understand the production figures. We work on milk solids, litres of milk and share dividends.
    Keep these comments coming, this is very educational. :worship:
     
  18. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What do you mean by "empty"? We have heifers, dry cows, and lactating cows on our farm. Right now we also have a clean up bull who is 11 months old. Jason will be one year on the 7th of Decemeber and his mother is due to calve on the 2nd.
    We only have a total of 56 (this includes Jason and the new little bull calf born on Monday) head of cattle right now (unless someone has calved), so we usually have at least one animal calving each month. We have 23 cows and 6 or 7 heifers joining the herd in the next four months. Though we are also splitting straws for breeding more often and so will have animals calve in groups like this one. We try to have some animals freshen every month so that not everyone is tailing off at the same time and we can maintain an average. Though years ago, my father and grandfather were having the animals dry during the coldest winter months. We try to have fewer cows in the winter because space is an issue, but our heifers didn't settle earlier. We are hoping to put up a free stall area in the next month. We will build it ourselves to cut costs and so we know it is done right.

    My father is very intelligent man and rather than using new equipment, hiring outside help, and spending every bit of money that comes in, he has been putting it into savings. Which is what we used when the prices dropped so badly the last couple of years. However, even with the low prices, sicne we raise Jerseys we were bringing in more than the other farmers. We currently buy our hay from a local farmer and pasture the majority of our fields, since the haying seasons recently have not been cooperative and we don't have the equipment for it. When something needs built, like our goat pen, we use what we already have. We are resourceful and my father's management skills are very good.

    The only other animal that produces a smidgen of income on our farm is our goats. We have a herd of gaots and we sell the bucks/wethers at the end of the year in hopes of recouping some of the money put into them. This year I am going to look into making goat's milk soap and selling it online. We also sell them as yard goats. But they have never made back what was put into them monetary wise.

    We ship Grade A which is usually the milk that ends up in liquid form in the store. However, we are paid according to production and components. The higher the fat and protein the more money per hundred weight of milk you bring in. Our Jerseys and Jersey/Norwegian Red crosses have higher components than the Fresian-Holsteins, so a Holstein and a Jersey producing the same amount of milk will not bring in the same amount of money because the richer Jerseys milk is worth more. I am not trying to insult Holsteins here, you guys, so pleae on't get me wrong.

    Actually, you might be interested in our cattle page on our website. The information for each cow is there. What she has given so far in her lifetime, what lactation she is in, when she last calved, or when she is due to calve. I keep it fairly updated, though I need to put the new information in. There are also photos of each animal. The numbers for milk, fat and protein are all in pounds.
    Our Cattle Page

    Yet again, I need to get going, though. There weren't any new calves yesterday but they could be here today and it is snowing so we need to get the milking animals and the animals who are going to freshen in the barn. I also need to bring a goat who may kid anyday now.
     
  19. Valmai

    Valmai Well-Known Member

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    Empty means not in calf.
     
  20. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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