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Author Topic: hay advice for calves  (Read 335 times)

hampshiresmallholder

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • Hampshire
  • If two wrongs don't make a right, try three
hay advice for calves
« on: March 08, 2019, 05:00:27 pm »
Hi all,  :wave:

This is a great forum, just wanted to say hi and become a member. also a couple of quick newbie question: when do I start feeding hay to my bottle calves i am thinking of buying in as when i googled it, some said hay and concentrates from 1 week old, and some said do not feed hay before two months, and then another source said from 6 weeks. I am confused..!! :thinking:

also is concentrates the same as calf starter or nuts

any comments welcome.

thanks in advance
Voss Electric Fence

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2019, 11:32:33 am »
Sorry, I have only just seen this.

Ruminants need forage from a week old to help the rumen develop.  Some people prefer them to only have their bedding straw until they are a little older, so if you go this way, make sure they have some clean bedding straw fresh every day. 

If you give them hay at a very young age, it needs to be lovely soft fresh hay, not dry and scratchy old stems. 

Start to give them a bit of some scratchier stuff too a bit later on, maybe from a month old, as it helps with rumen and gut development.  (But not exclusively scratchy stuff, you want them mainly eating lovely fresh stems.)

You might see a little blood in the poop for a day or two as they start to process the stems, particularly any scratchier ones.  A little for a day or two is not a concern, but a lot, or going on for a longer period of time, or of course if coupled with other health indicators, would be.

Bloat is always a concern with any young ruminants but especially bottle-reared ones.  Basically, don’t overfeed any non-milk foods, do not give too much milk at one time, and for safety, leave a gap in time between giving non-milk foods and milk.  Lots of good threads on the subject here - have a browse.
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

PipKelpy

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • North Shropshire
  • Dreamer with docile cattle and sheep!
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2019, 02:01:43 pm »
Afternoon

All my cattle have come from the same place, the last one arrived in November at 3 week old direct off the farm. This way the calves get a good start and I only get bugs from 1 farm not many! They come from deep straw bed to bucket of shavings and scattering of straw, though cleaned out throughout the day. Mary, the current one, went into her little pen and had a cratch of soft hay, course calf mix and a bucket of warm water. Milk is via a bucket twice a day though she is currently on half rations of milk as I am trying to wean her. She wears a head collar when out during the day and lives with some sheep and a 10 month old weanling that is waiting for new owner to come for. They share a small wheeled cratch full of soft and rough hay! Have recently been informed that the mother of my 5 year old suckler cow has just popped out another heifer, so Jennifer will be arriving in 2 weeks time and the mothering for me starts all over again. I must be mad! However, feed wise, remember that they are babies which means little and often. Let them settle and just small amounts of corn. I did have the vet out to see Mary as she wasn't as perky as she should have been back in January. He told me that calves lungs aren't very big and if Mary is a stuffer (good appetite) and then runs around like a loon then something has to give! 5 litre blue bucket, she would drink 2.5 litres milk replacer, then blue bucket of warm water and still look for more, twice a day! Spoilt here!
Halter train the cattle to keep them quiet but watch your back when they come a'bulling! Give them all names even those you plan to eat. Always be calm. Most importantly, invest in wellies with steel toe caps and be prepared for the clever cow who knows where the toe caps end!!

hampshiresmallholder

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • Hampshire
  • If two wrongs don't make a right, try three
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2019, 02:37:25 pm »
Wow. Thank you so much Sally. What exactly do you mean by 'soft hay'. Do you mean like alfalfa, and timothy hay is more scratchy and stemmy?
Thanks. I will do

hampshiresmallholder

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • Hampshire
  • If two wrongs don't make a right, try three
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2019, 04:03:47 pm »
Sorry Pip. Ive just seen this. Thank you as well, valid advice. And your signature is so true ;D ;D ::)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2019, 08:25:44 pm »
Oh, no, just grass hay, but well made, from fresh grass that hasn’t gone stemmy, usually from meadow grasses rather than rye (but that’s probably more to do with which fields farmers are likely to make into hay and which silage than that rye grasses wouldn’t be as good.)

We’ve found a source of hay for ourselves this year (no chance of making our own with the drought last summer :( ) which epitomises the type of hay I mean.  The cattle literally refuse to eat the other hay we get now they’ve tasted this!  And when you get some that falls in the water trough... after an hour or so, it’s just like a blade of fresh grass, including the colour. 

If you’re buying from a nice farmer, tell him/her that it’s for baby calves, and they’ll sort you out the right sort of stuff.
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2019, 10:21:33 pm »
Hi and welcome to Hampshire smallholder and Pipkelpy from Shropshire.  :wave: :wave:

hampshiresmallholder

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • Hampshire
  • If two wrongs don't make a right, try three
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2019, 06:16:38 pm »
Ok thanks Sally. I have access to plenty of timothy hay so would that be ok? Not sure if its 1st or 2nd cut but I presume what you're talking about is 2nd cut. Not sure if it matters though.

Please excuse all the questions ::) there may well be a few more while on my learning curve. :-[

Thanks for the welcome MGWOM.  :wave:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2019, 08:10:15 pm »
I learned what I know about making hay in north Cumbria, on Hadrian’s Wall.  We don’t get second hay cuts up there.... ;p

If you scrunch some of the hay in your hand, and get some ouches from pointy bits, it might be a bit scratchy for young calves.  If there are stems you can snap, it might be a bit scratchy for young calves.  But most hay will have the odd few stems you can snap :/
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2019, 11:19:47 am »
Ok thanks Sally. I have access to plenty of timothy hay so would that be ok? Not sure if its 1st or 2nd cut but I presume what you're talking about is 2nd cut. Not sure if it matters though.

Please excuse all the questions ::) there may well be a few more while on my learning curve. :-[

Thanks for the welcome MGWOM.  :wave:


Timothy hay is a lovely soft hay and will be ideal. :thumbsup:
 In fact it's not insurmountable if you were to get some stalky hay. It won't hurt them. It just means they would preferentially pick out the leafy bits, which are the most nutritious anyway,  so you'd get more wastage.


In answer to your question, yes concentrates means any "concentrated" feed such calf starter or nuts. It should be fed in conjunction with forage, which is hay or straw. Ruminants should always have some form of forage available ad lib, as the high fibre content is necessary for efficient digestion and to prevent stomach upsets.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2019, 12:12:53 pm »
I’ve generally found that calves aren’t interested in concentrates until around 6 weeks old.  They need a functioning rumen to digest them, so any earlier than around 4 weeks they could make them ill if they had more than a few flakes to lick at.  The rumen should be fully functioning at 8 weeks. 

What I tend to do is start to put a small handful of fresh flakes out after feeding at around 5-6 weeks.  Just a few, and fresh each time.  They’re inquisitive and will explore. 

Having tried several, I found that the Carrs’ Sure Start Calf Feed was the one they were most likely to like early, but in fact with our sort of animals there was little benefit in buying this more expensive product and they’d do just as well with an All Stock blend such as Jim Peat’s from around 6-8 weeks.

I’d just want them having a bit to nibble really, until I was nearly ready to wean them, then I’d want them to know they could eat the concentrates when they’re hungry, so that they would naturally go to the trough when their hunger wasn’t getting assuaged by the milk.
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

hampshiresmallholder

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • Hampshire
  • If two wrongs don't make a right, try three
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2019, 10:37:08 am »
Having tried several, I found that the Carrs’ Sure Start Calf Feed was the one they were most likely to like early, but in fact with our sort of animals there was little benefit in buying this more expensive product and they’d do just as well with an All Stock blend such as Jim Peat’s from around 6-8 weeks.


would this be ok? http://www.molevalleyfarmers.com/mvf/store/products/mvf-prime-calf-prestige-pellets-25kg

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2019, 10:49:33 am »
Probably, yes.  My preference was always a coarse mix rather than a pellet, because they like to play with the different textures and it seems to get them on eating it sooner.  But I’m sure those pellets would be fine, yes.
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 cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

hampshiresmallholder

  • Joined Mar 2019
  • Hampshire
  • If two wrongs don't make a right, try three
Re: hay advice for calves
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2019, 11:29:41 am »
thanks sally :thumbsup:

 

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