So at what age do you wean a bottle calf?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Tonya, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. Tonya

    Tonya Guest

    I'm getting so many answers from all over. Some say it's OK to wean at 6-8 weeks. Some say 3-6 months.

    We have two calves who are 8 and 9 weeks old. The 8 week old is a pretty black bull and the other is a Holstein bull. They have access to a mineral salt block and plenty of grass pasture.

    At what age should we wean them off the bottle? Do we give them calf creep? If so, how much? WHen you wean do you give them less replacer in their bottles or do you cut out a feeding?

    It's been 20+ years since I've taken care of calves and I'm second guessing myself on every move.

  2. mamahen

    mamahen Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    US of A
    We bottle fed for about 12 weeks. Before we weaned, we made sure they were eating calf starter (we used Calf Manna) really well. They each got 3-4 cups 2X a day.

    We then cut out the morning milk. They never missed it! After a week, we cut out the evening milk. Since they were still getting something yummy in the bucket, they didn't care.

    You might want to find a good quality loose mineral, instead of the solid block. They can eat it much easier.

    Ours are holsteins, too.

  3. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2007
    SW Michigan
    I have free milk for mine so I will wean at 10-12 weeks. If I had to buy milk replacer and they were eating other foods very, very well, I wouldn't be opposed to wean at 8 weeks.
  4. NEfarmgirl

    NEfarmgirl Well-Known Member

    Jan 27, 2009
    State of Insanity
    We started offering calf creep pellets right away when we got them at 2 days old. We would give the bottle and then hold out a handful of pellets--if they ate them they did if not oh well. The first batch of calves we had the vet said it was ok to wean at 8 weeks and all we had were problems. The next time we tried calves we fed until they were 3 months and we had no problems. As mentioned we cut the AM feeding and a week later cut the night feeding and it was a smooth transition. As for solid foods we offered it and gradually increased the amount so when they went off the bottle feedings they were eating well.
  5. travlnusa

    travlnusa Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2004
    I am on the other end. My goal is 4 weeks. They have starter grain in front of them starting at day 3 and a bucket of CLEAN water. . After each bottle feeding, I shove a small handful of grain in their mouth.

    When I say I leave grain in front of them, it is a very small amount, and I change it out each day. ( Anything they dont eat is fed to older stock).

    Once they are eating 2 lbs for three days in a row, I wean them. One feeding per day for three days then they are done.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010
  6. deineria

    deineria Well-Known Member

    Aug 22, 2009
    Our heifer was weaned at 10-12 weeks.
  7. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

    Oct 6, 2005
    You want your calves to get the best possible start for the lives. Milk is the bottom line for a good start. I will *never* wean my calves before 3 months of age, and if I have plenty of milk, I'll keep them on the bottle longer. I've been raising bottle calves for over 20 years now and my experience has been, that they need that first three months of milk for optimum health and longevity for the rest of their lives. I've tried other ways, and I do not like the results.
    Not that they won't survive if weaned earlier, they just do better if they are not.
    I have grain, hay and water out for them by the time they are a week old.
    I guess my question is what is your goal with these calves? If you want calves that going to just grow up to be butchered, weaning them earlier should be ok. But if they are going to be producers, you want to give them the very best foundation you can. Is you goal quick weaning or a very long and productive life?
    Edited to add: I see these are bulls, so probably bound for the freezer. In that case, it isn't quite as important to give them the basis for a long productive life. So weaning as soon as they are eating solids *well*, should be ok if you must.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010