|Linda in Utah ||
Posted 09-20-2004 at 10:44:11
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We feed apples that have fallen from our trees to our cows by the bucketful. Since your calves are bottle babies, you might have to cut a slice of apple and push it into their mouths the first time, but they'll quickly catch on. Or slice up an apple or other fruit or vegetable and leave the slices in their grain/starter so they can learn that this, too, is food. They'll come to love nearly any fruit or vegetable. I've seen my cows fighting over pumpkins that were tossed into their pasture.
I brought our bull home a couple of weeks ago, along with a weanling bull calf. Yesterday I took a bucket of apples out to the bulls. The calf looked a bit confused but watched the older bull carefully. When he saw the older bull stick his head through the feeder panel and start eating an apple, he quickly ran over and sniffed the older bull's mouth. It was as if a light bulb went on in his head. He pulled his head back, ran over to where I had dumped a few apples for him and started chowing down. Some folks say a cow can choke on an apple, but - knock on wood - that's never happened with our cows.
Calves learn most commonly by example - they watch other cows and what they eat. Don't feed too much of a new food to your calves at once, or they may bloat. But, they'll tolerate moderate amounts of new foods just fine.