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Weaning bottle-fed calves
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Judy    Posted 04-18-2004 at 09:22:36       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I think I have a stupid calf, or I'm pampering her too much. She's 4 weeks old, bottle-fed since birth, and for the last couple of weeks I've been trying to transition her with calf starter and hay along with the milk replacer. She will only eat dry feed if I hand-feed her. I think she's having a hard time eating "down", because even when I hold my hand out with food, she pushes it up and then basically "nurses" the dry food off of it. She absolutely refuses to drink water out of a bucket. How do I get her to eat on her own so she can be independent?

deadcarp    Posted 04-18-2004 at 15:25:09       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you're hand-weaning her (by getting yur fingers in the milk and then let her start sucking yer fingers while you lower the wet hand into the milk - that works too :) i know it's more awkward but use a wide bucket & try to keep your palm down while it's in the calf's mouth.

Those little guys get antsy & like to butt mama's bag in nature and their front teeth can cut across a couple fingers in a hurry. Palm down your fingers just bend, palm up they'll straighten out & lock. :)

Fern(Mi)    Posted 04-18-2004 at 10:50:49       [Reply]  [No Email]
I think your rushing or pressing this calf rather hard. At 4wks should just be about right for introducing some kind of dry feed for calf to sample. May taste and spit out or swallow. If you don't want to bottle feed the calf break it to the bucket. I've done this at 3days old. Calf should continue milk replacer until about 60days of age, reducing milk amounts or feeding the last week or 10days.
Some folks to entice calf into dry feed use sweet feed or top dress with a bit of molasses. Hold back for a while with corn. Hard on calves stomachs. Small amout of 2nd-cut alfalfa for sampling at start also.
This is my way. Sure some do it diffrent. Case of what ever works best for you.
Try internet quick search for calf feeding. May find better way than what I'm used to.
Note: Two bovine do three times each better than one alone. These critters are social animals. Might keep this in mind.

Linda in UT    Posted 04-18-2004 at 21:42:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
I agree with Fern.

Make sure the calf has fresh water available at all times. You may not see it drinking for awhile, but it will nose around and drink fairly soon.

I always used Calf Manna pellets to introduce bottle babies to dry feed. Just push a little bit into the calf's mouth after every bottle. It will spit out more than it swallows at first, but will be eating it in a week or two. Keep a container of dry calf manna out for the calf and it will catch on and start eating it before too long. Also keep a small of amount of fresh hay out for the calf.

Calves normally learn to eat various foods by imitation, mostly. Without a mama cow to show the calf, it will pick up on eating various dry foods a little slower, but it will get the hang of it.

Calves will nibble on dry feed for quite some time before they dig in and make a meal of it. But, while they are nibbling, their rumen is developing the proper good bacteria needed to digest the different kinds of dry feed. This is a vital part of their digestion and growing process.

Be patient.

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