To bottle feed or not?

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by jimandpj, Oct 8, 2006.

  1. jimandpj

    jimandpj Well-Known Member

    Feb 8, 2006
    Near Louisville, KY
    We just got our first cow - a 4 year old jersey that is due to calve the end of October. We're trying to decide whether to bottle feed. The cow came from a dairy, so has never raised a calf before. This will be her 3rd calf.

    What are your experiences? What are the issues we need to consider?

  2. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2004
    I've never bottle fed (cows), so maybe my judgement is clouded, but I'd let the calf stay on her. You'll get a healthy and quicker growing calf (and you won't be out there feeding).

    We don't have dairy cattle (we have Highlands and don't milk even though I've read here you can), but I've heard you can still get part of the milk off her (and let the calf finish). (if the issue is over your personal milk). If she rejects it, you'll have to bottle feed, but even though they've taken the first 2 off, I'll bet she still will nurse, guard etc. the calf.

    To be very honest, personally if she rejected it, I consider selling her. You don't want to have to raise bottle babies only, and I'd be worried it was genetics why she rejected and wouldn't want any offspring from her.


  3. topside1

    topside1 Retired Coastie Supporter

    Sep 23, 2005
    Monterey, Tennessee
    Bottle-feeding is more work, however in my opinion it pays off in the long run as follows:
    1. Friendly animal to enjoy after a hard days work. (keep in mind it could love ya so much it's annoying)
    2. Easy to maintain up for whatever reason (manageable for life)
    3. Simple to roundup if fencing breaks down.
    3. With a little grain the steer is easily persuaded to jump into a cattle trailer for it's final voyage to beef heaven.

    Just the first few things that come to mind.....Tennessee john

    P>S>...They make great carpenter's helpers and only work for food. Good Luck!!!
  4. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

    Dec 19, 2005
    West Central WI.
    For sure it pays off as you get a calf that likes people instead of running away from said. I get my bull calves at about the age of 5 days. And i then bottle feed them for a month then break them to drink milk out of a bucket. Then after that milk as a treat from time to time :) and at about a year and a half old off to the butchers to fill me freezer up, cool eh? I got one at 1-1/2 days old and got the colostrum to feed the next few times then milk replacer after that and these are Jersey's I get from a local dairy farmer.
  5. lgslgs

    lgslgs Well-Known Member

    May 30, 2005
    Southeast Ohio
    Bottle training is really good if you are planning on training the calf to pull or for riding.

  6. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

    Nov 28, 2005
    Tennessee John - Does the Carpenter's Union have a Holstein Apprentice Program?...Good Pic, LOL
  7. Skye

    Skye Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    My first Jersey had a calf in May. My neighbor told me to let the calf nurse the first few days and then seperate them. He said the milk is so rich it is bad to scour them. He suggested that I bottle feed her. Did I listen? No, of course not. Having never raised a calf before much less a dairy calf I thought knew more. After all, it was sad to seperate mother from baby so I did my own thing. I would start milking and after a minute let the baby in to have 1 quarter. It started out great. Now Buttercup (mom cow) won't let her milk down unless Abigail is nursing. I don't know what will happen when she is weaned. Now that she is 5 months old she is hard to pull away from her mom so that I can finish milking. And the scouring thing seems to be true. I accidently left the together a whole day and Abigail got real sick. I had to give her antibiotics. She got weak and her stools were really really loose. That has been my own experience. I still don't know what I am doing.
  8. DJ in WA

    DJ in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 27, 2005
    Yes, it can be worse for letdown if cow is bonded to a nursing calf. I have a pretty good system, hooking a rope to calf halter before letting her in to stimulate cow to let down. After 30 seconds of her sucking, I pull calf over just out of reach of the cow, hooking the end of the rope to the far side of shed.

    The benefit for me is that I only have to milk once per day with the calf doing the chore the other 12 hours. And now that the calf's bigger, I can even take a day off when I want to. Now, my cow is half beef, so this is possible with lower production. May not work with full Jersey unless you get another calf or two to help milk to prevent scours.

    In the book, Keeping a Family Cow, author discussed pros and cons. She said that calves actually survive better when nursing on mom. Perhaps that somehow stimulates immune system.
  9. JulieLou42

    JulieLou42 Well-Known Member

    Mar 28, 2005
    North Central Idaho, Zone 5
    I'm having thoughts of letting my calf nurse till mom weans him sometime between Dec. and Feb. and then begin milking again...only that's our coldest time of year, so I'm not certain I want to take that on then. I'm planning on holding off breeding till late Nov. early Dec. so that she has a late summer calf this time, and see how that works out 'round here.

    This particular calf just planted his hooves firmly and would not take a bottle from me, even with mom's milk in it. Tho' that was how he got his first colostrum down, he wouldn't have anything to do with it the next feeding.

    He, like the one I had two years ago, is very healthy.