goatsmilk for calves?

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we are getting two calves, a little sooner than we expected, tonight. We had not gotten any milk replacer, yet, thought we had a couple more weeks. A friend has offerd us all the ogatsmilk we can use for the calves-is this a good idea? She says that some friends of theirs have used it and compared to the 'formula', they actually have better results. With the replacer, thye will sometimes lose one, but never with goatsmilk.

What do you think? And will we need to feed them more frequently?

Thanks, Sarah

-- Sarah (heartsong85@juno.com), September 25, 2000


Sarah, goats milk is better than replacer for calves -- if these are newborns (hopefully they will have had colostrum?) they will need to eat three or four times a day at first, then you can cut back to two feedings a day. They will do better on more smaller feedings, but of course it isn't always convenient with our schedules.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (stonycft@worldpath.net), September 25, 2000.

I raise all my calves on goats milk and I've never lost one yet. They do great, I think even better than on cows milk (personal observation). Watch for them to scour and if they do, treat them immediately and aggressively. I use only homeopathic remedies on my calves so have no experience with the medicated stuff, however others on the forum have really good things to say about a scouring med that works well, I cant think of the name but you should have something on hand just in case. Is it Spectrum? I'm sure someone will know.

I feed calves 3 times a day until two weeks old, then 2 times a day.

Good luck and have fun!

-- Julie (julieamc@excite.com), September 25, 2000.

I am glad that I saw this. We want to get bottle calves again this winter and I wanted to use goat milk, but everyone (you know the neighbors that are "experts") says that goat milk isn't good for calves or that it has to be diluted. How big of bottles do you use and do you dilute it?? The last group of calves we did we used the quart size bottles, but felt that it wasn't enough so we were going to go to the quart and half size that is currently being recommended. Thanks.

-- beckie (sunshine_horses@yahoo.com), September 25, 2000.

Sarah, I hope no one will faint over this, but our calve actually nurses from our goats! The two that are in lactation right now. When we were given Billy--our calve--he was a week old, born a twin, and neglected from mama. He was on the edge of death waiting for a slight woind to blow him over. From side to side he was about...5-6 inches wide! The first few times I had to tube him and pour the milk into his belly he was so weak. I would lay hands on him and pray for him and feel the warmth of the Spirit touch him. Never believe God doesn't care for all creation! (smile). What a joy to see him now...strong, robust, one big fat baby! He is a Charlois (all white) and he mainly nurses from Carmine our Saanen (also all white) and I believe he truly believes she is his mama!

-- Beth Weber (talmidim88@hotmail.com), September 25, 2000.

Some of you who have raised calves like this, sure wish you would give us some step by step advice, especially on prevention and vaccinations you have used to raise up butcher beef. Since we will not be selling milk now, I am going to raise calves on the extra goat milk, how much do they drink and for how long? I am going to use them on a pasture rotation program to clean up the grass in the goat pens, also they make very efficient worm vacumerers on pasture, worms that normally would reinfest the goat are rendered inactive in the cow. I am on several lists for bummer calves, and have several gallons of colostrum saved. 1% of body wieght like we do for goats with colostrum?

Also you never want to dilute milk with water to an animal with a rumen, it changes the composition of the fat, makes it impossible for the stomach to form a curd and can cause scours. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), September 25, 2000.

One thing to bear in mind with calves is that when sucking on momma they have to suck really hard to get milk. This causes them to produce saliva which mixes with the milk and aids in digestion. The nipples which come with the standard co-op milk bottles have an X openings which is way, way too big. Milk just about gushes out the end. Consider taping the nipples with electrical tape and creating a smaller opening so the calf has to suck harder for the milk. Feeding will take longer, but it will be better for the calf.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), September 25, 2000.

I've never had to give a calf colostrum but the 1% sounds right. I too put the calves directly on the goats but I milk the goats first so I know who's giving what and can "measure" milk consumption that way. I start my calves (depending on size and age) with 1-1.5 quarts 3 times a day and slowly increase the milk if they don't scour. I will give up to 8 quarts a day, sometimes more. I give milk for AT LEAST 10 weeks, usually more, although I know people who wean at 8 weeks. I don't cut back on their milk when they scour, they're already sick and hurting and don't need to starve at that point.

It sounds like I overfeed my calves (and according to fellow calf raisers I do) but I've never lost one and they thrive. Just be careful to watch for scours.

-- Julie (julieamc@excite.com), September 25, 2000.

We also raise calves for veal and feed them goat milk. when we first get the calves we give them a Immuno-G for 3 days and then stop. This is a cloestrum based product that is a nutritional supplement I use on our goats, dogs, etc. then we feed the calves on bottles, starting with several small feedings like about a pint or so 4-5 times a day. Then we gradually increase until they are drinking about 3 gallons a day. We have raised the best calf crop ever doing this and it works for us. About 5-6 weeks we bucket train and feed by bucket.


-- Bernice (geminigoats@yahoo.com), September 25, 2000.

Sarah,Go with the goat milk. I have raised all kinds of baby animals on goats milk with wonderful results. My best results are now 6 foot and 6foot 2 inches tall(ha) I usually give my bottle calves a shot of vitamins, and antibiotic, and thaw out some frozen goat colostrum and give them some or all depending one how much I have. This is for calves who did not get any colostrum at birth. On the started calves, I just give the vitamins and antibiotic and go with the straight undiluted goats milk. AS you probably know, goats milk has smaller fat globules and is easier to digest. This eleminates the digestive problems you get from feeding milk replacer. I have raised puppies, kittens, piglets, calves, bunnies and human babies on goats milk and believe it is the very best milk to feed any infant creature. Good luck. (I feed 3 to 4 times a day depending on how young, if it is a unweaned puppie or kitten or bunnie that increased to 6 or 7 times a day.) karen

-- Karen Mauk (dairygoatmama@hotmail.com), September 26, 2000.

Hi, again,

Okay-now we have him-one of the two we are getting. He is a week old, had three days of colostrum, and then was on the replacer. We are going to use the goatsmilk until our source dried up(which will probably be in a week to ten days.) ANd when we get the other calf, we will just use the replacer on him and do a side by side comparison. Next year we will have extra milk (from our goats) and we will go with that if all goes well this time.

Okay, today wgave him 1 qt of the goatsmilk, and will do this three, maybe four times today and tomorrow, maybe longer if needed, I want to slowly get him up to 1 1/2 qt a feeding(or to a gallon a day), and down to twice a day by three weeks. (he is one week) We may see about getting more goatsmilk, if we can, otherwise he will end up on the replacer...I want to put it off as long as we can. If we have to change over, what is the best way to do it, and how much each feeding? Also, we were told that we can start offering him calf starter now, or in a few days, just really slow at first(so he learns that it is good stuff) and that by three weeks of age he should have it free choice, and we should begin to offer hay too. By six weeks of age we should begin to wean him, and he should be getting free choice on the feed, and hay. Eight weeks he should be done (or thereabouts, and if we are able to get a source of goatsmilk for the entire time, we will probably end it at 8 weeks (it is free now, but won't be in another week to ten days.)

No mention of vitamines or anything, though I did ask about those minerals, but as long as he is on the calf feed, that is not needed. Next spring when he goes on pasture, then he will need the minerals.

Do we need to get alfalfa hay, or is a mix okay? And how much do we need to get for two calves (jersey) and two goats. (the goats will live on forage as long as itis available, but winter is around the corner! We had a light frost last night-a month early!) ANd what is the best way to feed them, to reduce waste? And keep the expense down.

since these boys will be in the freezer eventually, when do we offer them grain, or do we continue to give them grain the whole time? And we were thinking that we would aim for next December for butchering, or is that too soon?

Thanks! Sarah

-- Sarah (heartsong85@juno.com), September 26, 2000.

I get calves from the sale stable after the baby goats have been sold off easter time. At 2 to 3 months depending on weather (N.Y.) they go out for a few hours after evening chores to lean the ropes about pasture etiquitte from the yearlings. By August they are living outside 24/7 but they still get the days goat milk divided among them until the goats go dry. I stop graining once they are living outside full time. If you are raising on replacer, add a raw egg(beaten) to one or two feedings a day . For two calves under a year old I figure a bale of hay a day(depending on bale size) and then figure the number of days they don't have pasture available and add a little,because as the grow, of course they eat more, and it's better to have leftovers than not enough. Just make sure next fall you feed the oldest hay first. The best beef we had recently was a holstein heifer I bought at the sale barn in April and butchered in May before she could come into heat and get into trouble with the neighbors bull. She wasn't huge, but very tender. I feed grain for 4 to 6 weeks before butching to put some marble on the meat. Good luck!

-- Leslie ann Rigley (impguard@telenet.net), September 30, 2000.

hi sarah, from what i've read the most important thing about the goat's milk besides nutrition is the size of the protein (enzyme?) It's much smaller than a cow's and can be very easily digested. that's why its ideal for so many animals including humans. The bigger the animal the bigger the protein enzyme and if your not ment to be as big as a cow it doesn't digest properly. when people give their infants formula which is a cow product it is not easily digested. My grandfather raises beef cows and he uses Kao Pectate I believe if the calf has the scours he's found it works pretty good but I couldn't tell you the dosage. I know formula is very expensive but I think feeding a goat would be alot cheaper than buying bags of formula.

-- vicky forba (emily@emcs.net), October 01, 2000.

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