calf question (feedfing a two-week-old Holstein calf?) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We just got a holstein bull calf about 2 weeks ago. He was born at my neighbors dairy farm and received colustrum[sp?] He is currently on milk replacer, 2 quarts, twice a day. He drinks it so fast, like 30 seconds and it is gone. I cant get him to eat anything else. I have calf starter pellets, free choice in his stall and free choice timothy hay plus fresh water. He wont touch anything. I noticed last night that he was shivering. It has been in the 20's and beside bringing him into the house I dont no what I can do. Any tips to encourage him to start eating hay and grain?

-- tracy (, December 31, 2001


Response to calf question

Maybe make a mush of little grain and milk? I know to start a baby they usually put a little cereal in the milk. I gave really runny food/milk that tasted like what they were used to. Hope that helps. If you make a food mush you could put in his mouth far enough back that he swallows. That is what you do to babies or sick chickens. :o) I do not know cows, but a baby is a baby.

-- notnow (, December 31, 2001.

Response to calf question

Not to worry! It is very typical for them to slosh down thier milk that way. As far as eating goes, he is way too young to be eating other than an occasional nibble on the hay. He should be on milk until he is at least 8-10 weeks old. I suspect you may be giving him too much milk. He should be getting only about 1 pint per 10 pounds of calf. Even at that it might be too much. At this age he should also only be feed his milk ration 1/2 in the morning and the other 1/2 at night. Overfeeding is far worst than under feeding at this age.

You might also try switching from the starter pellets to a calf starter grain that is not pelleted and contains mollases. Most new calves find it more a palletable.

Being in the 20's should not pose a problem for the calf at his age. He's able to withstand temperatures far worst. If he is cold it could be because of drafts. Babies can take the cold, but they can't take drafts. If you have a drafty barn you might try pinning a blanket on him. The only thing, is you don't want him to too use to being warm. He needs to adjust, but you don't want him getting pneomonia, so use your judgment. Definately don't move him to a heated environoment - he'll never adjust to the cold.

If he seems healthy other than the eating problem (his manure seems find, eyes are clear and bright, and he is playing and moving around well) then I would not worry. You probably just have a fussy baby on your hands. If the feeding problem continues into another week after cutting back on his milk, however, I would have him seen by a vet. Babies can be fine one day and go down hill real fast!

-- Karen (, December 31, 2001.

Response to calf question

Hi Tracy! We bottle raised a calf last year, and I had to actually put the grain in her mouth and almost hold it there the first few times. It didn't take long for her to get the idea, but I still hand fed her for a couple weeks. It was quite a while before she ate hay, though, so I just kept it clean (changed it every few days) and eventually she started in on it. Hope he starts soon!

-- Cara Dailey (, December 31, 2001.

Response to calf question

They often shiver after eating a warm bottle .You can start with grain now it's fine .Everytime I walk by I put a handfull in there mouth .They get the hang of it , and it wont take to long.Also if he is about 100lbs he is fine on 2 qts per day.If thats what he is eating and not scouring don't change it .

-- Patty {NY State} (, December 31, 2001.

Response to calf question

I took some of the calf starter pellets and soaked it with his milk. After he got done inhaling his milk I started putting[shoving] the soft pellets in his mouth and after a few minutes he got it. The problem is that the last calf we raised took to me so much that when he got older he "loved me" if you know what I mean. He was suppose to be a steer but ended up being a stag and when he got older liked me a little too much. I know with horses you have to establish a pecking order real fast and would imagine the same with a cow. I want to encourage him to eat but dont want to encourage another relastionship.

-- tracy (, December 31, 2001.

Response to calf question

I assume you are use one of the one-half gallon bottles with the rubber nipples. Find a piece semi-hard rubber. But to fit inside the cap of the bottle. Drill or cut a small hole to force the calf to have to suck hard to get the milk. (He is gulping it now which isn't good for him.) You will also need to leave an air hole, just like your bottle cap has now, otherwise the bottle will want to collapse. I'm at my sister's place FL for a couple of more days. When I return I'll provide the address of a place which sell "Suck Hard" nipples.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, January 01, 2002.

No , he is drinking out of a bucket.

-- tracy (, January 01, 2002.

If you are in an area that is getting under 20 degree temperatures, he needs a red heat lamp to stay warm. If he is only two weeks old that is too young to expect a dairy calf to keep himself warm by himself, in the dairies the farmers keep all the new born calves in the big barn all together until they are sold, usually at a month of age, not two weeks old in the dead of winter.

I would not try to get him to eat solids at this age, he is way too young yet, most likey you will just cause him to scour very badly and die of dehydration and exposure.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, January 01, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ