Bottle feeding or replacement cow? Which do you prefer?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Greetings all, I had the good fortune to meet the owners of an organic dairy here in Oregon, who sold me an absolutely wonderful Jersey "springer", along with 4 healthy bull calves. She had only had one calf herself (2 1/2 yrs old), and had pre-mastitis in her back two teats. As they are organic, treating her was out of the question. So I took a chance and brought her home. Total price--385.00 for all. I milked her for the first 2 days, then introduced the calves one at a time, until by day 3, she had accepted all 4 of them. Sucked the mastitis right out of her. What a cow! She's as gentle as can be. I hate to admit it, but I've kind of grown fond of her. I suppose that's ok, as she'll likely spend her life here, barring anything unforseen. I have to say, it's been one of the best financial, as well as labor saving moves I have ever made, at least on the farm.
In the past, I have raised Holstein's using the bottle method. It takes 2 bags of replacement milk per calf to get 'em up to 8 weeks, at which time I have weaned them due to economic considerations. Milk replacer alone costs $40.00 a bag, X 8=320.00 for 4 calves in milk alone, not to mention the work involved.
Anybody out there have any experience raising calves with a replacement cow? I will probably wean them at 12 weeks (September 1st), sell 2, and buy 4 more to introduce. How long can one continue this kind of rotation without re-breeding her? She gets 2 coffee cans of 16% grain twice a day, along with good irrigated pasture, and is maintaining her weight very well. Calves are nursing and grazing, with very little grain (couple of handfulls/day) and look great. Any suggestions or ideas either way would be appreciated. Thanks in advance, Charlie in Western Oregon.
-- Charlie P. (email@example.com), August 13, 2001
Having experienced both methods, no contest. The cow was designed to raise calves. The bucket/bottle is a poor second and requires cleaning, transporting of milk, the calves butt it and the milk spills (bucket) or they suck the bottle dry in no time and want more. With a mama cow they receive not only milk, but nurturing and training. Your cow will probably raise several calves without rebreeding her, but you could let her rest a couple months before she freshens again. We are prejudiced, but Jerseys are wonderful. Just don't breed her to a larger-breed bull, stay with a Jersey or Angus, or milking Shorthorn bull or go AI. Good luck, and enjoy your cow.
-- Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 15, 2001.
We do this same thing with the milk cow and calves, - with a variation. We keep the calves in the barn and bring the cow in morning and night. The calves have grain in front of them and water all the time.
They completely empty her morning and night, but she gets a break from them during the day and night. (Many cows will never actually own strange calves enough to be turned out full time with them and will only let them nurse when they are being fed their grain twice a day.)
We put four calves on the cow until they are ready to wean (as early as 300 pounds) and then another set of four until they are to wean. The last time, when she is toward the end of her lactation and not producing as much milk, we just put two.
Incidently, about the milk replacer calves. We put 25 pounds of milk replacer through each calf. By that time, we have them eating grain. Any more than 25 pound (and, it is really all them need to take them to grain eating) and you have invested too much money.
-- homestead2 (email@example.com), August 16, 2001.