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Author Topic: Calves: basic info. please.  (Read 3493 times)

Slimjim

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • North Devon
Calves: basic info. please.
« on: April 01, 2016, 11:39:04 am »
It's a long story, but I am feeding aweek old orphan calf that was in very poor condition with a stomach tube at the moment since she won't/can't suck. She is making progress, and although a very long way off, I was wondering at what age are calves normally given hay, creep and put out to grass. Many thanks.

waterbuffalofarmer

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2016, 01:21:37 pm »
For a healthy strong calf, I don't put them out unless the weather is warm and the grass is growing quite quickly, I would say about 1 month or thereabouts and even then bring them in at night time. For a weak calf like her it will undoubtedly be much longer, possibly 2 months before she can go outside. I give my calves creep/hay and water when they're 1 1/2 weeks old and I stay with them putting little bits into their mouths to give them a taste of the food. the hay they will usually chew by themselves before tucking into cake. I give mine a loose feed, Berrystock, which you can get from certain merchants in England/Wales, I give them little bits to begin with them gradually up the intake, making sure that they're drinking water. If they're not drinking water I give them a bit of water in the afternoon, warm with some honey in which helps hydrate them and they love it. As to the calf tubing part I wouldn't know as I have never, ever tubed a calf before, someone else does that for me ;D I do need to learn though so no excuse there! I hope this helps and all the best with everything :thumbsup:
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2016, 03:07:09 pm »
All ruminants should be given something stalky to stimulate rumen development within the first 7 days.  They'll only pick on at it at first, of course.  Some folk prefer to use a good barley straw, rather than hay, as there's less chance of it scratching the internal membranes.  We bed our calves on barley straw, so they always have that to lick at, and give them a little soft, fresh hay at least twice a day - replacing what was there, which can become bedding or be given to older stock.

Most of ours start to show interest in cake at about 10 days old but don't really get stuck into it until about a month old.  We use a calf starter mix (and have spent some time and money finding one they really like; for us it's the Champion one, companion product to Champion Tup & Lamb.)  Again, just offer a little, and remove at the next feed, replacing with fresh.

As to being outside, young calves aren't good at withstanding rain, so when they can go out depends partly on what shelter is available.  If none, then the weather needs to be warm and dry, really.  And I'd be bringing orphan calves indoors overnight and if the weather is wet, because they haven't got mummies to make sure they're somewhere sheltered.  Always well-ventilated, though, for cattle.

Introducing grass may need to be done slowly, so that the rumen adjusts to the new feedstuff.  We have a small rather bare paddock that gets used for lambs and calves to start learning about eating grass.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Slimjim

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • North Devon
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2016, 06:45:11 am »
Thank you for those very comprehensive and helpful  replies. I know it will be long haul, but at least there is a plan now! Thanks again.

Slimjim

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • North Devon
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2016, 11:13:16 am »
Ok. Got all that thank you. Next question is how long do I continue tubing milk replacer into her?
Today is the 4th and last day of giving 2ltrs electrolytes and 2 ltrs m/r. Tomorrow I plan to change to 4 ltrs of m/r.  The 4 litres is given 1+1 in morning and 1+1 in the evening.  I have tried to bottle feed from the start, but she will not suck.( one of  the probs that has got her where she is). I have been told that the next step is to offer the m/r in a bucket. Clearly I shouldn't continue indefinitely with the stomach tube with it's associated risks ( to my back if nothing else!!).

waterbuffalofarmer

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2016, 11:45:44 am »
There is a way of putting her onto a bottle. Have you a spare cow? If you bring the cow in, maybe into a crush then you can put the calf under her  being very careful, and have the bottle of milk with a soft teat, preferably a lambs bottle with attached soft calf teat you can buy from your local farming store its a brown soft one. Attach it to the bottle and what you do is, as long as the cow doesnt kick,  put the bottle under the cow and let the calf find the so called cows teat, ie the bottle teat, it will trick her into thinking its the udder. Do this a few times until youre confident that she will suckle it on her own. I do this all the time with difficult buffalo calves. Whatever you do be patient and do try and force her to drink as she wont respond to it. All the best and do let us know how everything goes :thumbsup:
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

waterbuffalofarmer

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2016, 12:02:42 pm »
Make sure that the cow is a placid cow and that she doesn't kick you as you're doing it. Failing that you could choose another calf for her to practice on, as long as she wants to boof the object that's fine. Also the calf has to be quite hungry. How strong is she atm?
« Last Edit: April 02, 2016, 01:29:56 pm by waterbuffalofarmer »
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2016, 12:06:59 pm »
Does she suck your fingers when you put them in her mouth?
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2016, 01:11:55 pm »
Have you considered a calf jacket?  It takes the edge off the challenge of the weather,even if the calf is inside.  A study carried out last year showed marked DLW (Daily Liveweight Gain) in jacketed calves.  If it's small a large size dog coat would do for now.

Slimjim

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • North Devon
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2016, 09:18:29 pm »
I have no cows. I keep just a few breeding sheep. The calf came from my neighbour's farm and was born while he was away for Easter. It has never sucked from the start, despite being offered up to the cow with her in the crush.Anyway, during the past week she has been brought back from almost dead to making a short walk from her pen in my woodshed into my garden this morning while I was preparing her feed!
She does suck my finger, but if I then offer a teated bottle she clams up and collapses to the ground. She still isn't strong enough to remain standing for long. I have to support her with sling to keep her upright in order to tube her.
Good idea MF, and if I was to do this on a regular basis, I would invest in a jacket. However for speed I initially improvised one from a piece of high spec loft insulation made of alternating layers of fleece and silver foil.
I have now stopped the electrolytes after four days and she is now having 4.5L of milk replacer per day.
Having said all that, and just to repeat,  what is the next step? Inevitably she will have to go back to the farm, and possibly her mother, but she needs to be much stronger and better able to withstand the challenges that will bring before she leaves me. Thank you for your interest.

F.CUTHBERT

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2016, 11:45:23 pm »
if they are a few days old and they have not suckled they seem to forget what it is about and it can be a bit of a struggle to get them started again. It is easier if they are hungry so try the bottle before tubing the calf maybe even miss the morning feed and try the bottle again at night. If it is a small calf 4l of milk might be a lot for it.
I have been told putting a bit of chocolate in there mouth before sticking the teat in helps make them suck same with honey on the teat. With lambs tickling them under the tail stimulates them to suckle but any time i tried it with calves it just seems to make them poop.
I would want to see it suckling it's self before worrying about hard feed as long term tubing is a one way street to no where.

shygirl

  • Joined May 2013
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2016, 08:35:35 am »
if you can get her to suck, then try the bucket. there are sooky/dummy things that teach them to drink from a bucket, im sure someone can elaborate more.

Slimjim

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • North Devon
Re: Calves: basic info. please.
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2016, 07:19:35 pm »
I think we have turned a corner at last. I missed the morning feed as suggested above, and persevered with the bottle at lunchtime until she suddenly got the message and went for it. 1.5 litres of milk replacer down the hatch! She got very excited, danced about with tail thrashing. Same again this evening after she had had a stroll round the garden. After finishing the first 1.5l, she came after me for more - so she got it. Finally, when that was finished, she took to butting my shins, which I interpreted as the instinct to bash the udder. A few more days like today and she can go back to the farm, her mum and meet some other calves. That will be a great result. Thank you all for your help.

 

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