hand rearing calves

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I have brought two dairy cross beef master calves and would like to know the correct way of feeding them, at the moment I feed them a milk powder for calves and mix it with 1l of water four times a day increasing the powder at the night feed. I do put clean water and dry food down which I change/re-fresh twice a day. when do I worm them and when can I feed them three times a day? I need a program if any one has one, I feel more in control if I have a plan to follow. I live in South Africa

-- Julie (jskinner@tellumat.com), January 30, 2002



Go down the current questions/treads page to the categories and check out the ones on Cattle (four of them). There is informantion in some of the threads on raising bottle calve. Do bear in mind the replies may be someone's opinion and not necessarily fact.

Overall it sounds like you already have the start of a good program. If on momma the calf would nurse several times a day. If you keep good hay, what we call 'calf starter' or 'calf grower' and fresh water available, the calves will start eating/drinking them when they are ready. You can sometimes help this along by placing some of the grains/molasses/etc. mix in their mouth so they get the taste. I have fed my bottle calves twice a day, topping them off afterwards with warm sugar water so they feel full without giving too much milk replacer.

Pleased to see you got two. I've always felt they do better in pairs or more than singles. They have company.

The brand of cattle wormer you use should tell you at what age to start using it. I believe normally the first time is followed a month or so later with a booster, than annually thereafter. Be aware of the withdrawal times prior to slaughter.

When you get a chance, please tell us what farming/homesteading is like in South Africa. Dave and Anne-marie at Countryside and Small Stock Journal (the host of this forum) dearly love articles and photographs about homesteading in other countries.

Are you affected by the government confiscation of farms for land reform?

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), January 30, 2002.

Here in Pennsylvania, my best friend JOE, buy 10 calves every season, and he always loose 2 or 3 of them because the powder milk, until last season, he had 5 cows and he put two calve per cow, guess what, they had no diarryhea, and all of them are grown up now. You can't improve God I say.

-- Ralph Roces (rroces1@yahoo.com), January 30, 2002.

Hi Julie....I think you are managing your calves very well. ( you have a good plan). I cannot stress enough the importance of handling the animals. Rub their ears, stroke them, lead them...whatever. If you don't and plan on milking them or even transporting them, they will cooperate better if they have been handled.

-- Harmony (harmonyfarm57@hotmail.com), January 30, 2002.

Julie, if your calves are doing well and have had no diahrea, you are apparently on the right track. I have found in using the milk replacer that following the instructions on the bag is usually the best procedure. After all most manufacturers want you to be successfull so that you will buy more of the same and have therefore spent great effort in developing a procedure and product that will assure your success. Having said that, I will have to admit there are always some cheap brands on the market. I have raised from one to ten calves a year for the last fifteen years and have never lost one yet. I have tried the cheap brands a couple times and when the calves scoured, treated it and went back to the more expensive brand. Ralph, If your friend Joe is losing calves on milk replacer that frequently, I would suggest he was doing something wrong. I find that a very strict program is necessary in feeding calves by hand. First and most important is cleanliness of the feeding equipment, second is correct temperature of the product and third, I follow the manufacturers recommendations to the letter. I also try to stick to a time schedule for feeding, that is feeding at the same time every day and feedings as evenly spaced as possible.Julie, I am curious about the use of Beefmaster dairy cross in S. A. In this country, Angus is used on first calf heifers for easy calving and most of the calves I get are Angus Holstien cross. What are the circumstances in the crosses in your country?

-- Mac (Alaskanhyperborean@yahoo.com), January 30, 2002.

I agree with Ken. The things I do are almost exactly the same,but we only feed our calves twice a day,a full bottle at each feeding.Any more than that and they'll get the scours.I just give them a bottle of water now and then to keep them hydrated.We've also found out that you need a high fat content in your milk I believe it has to be over 20%. The higher the better. We lost calves do to the low fat content. Watch for loose stools to be certain they don't get scours.Good Luck!

-- carla (herbs@computer-concepts.com), January 30, 2002.

Thanks for the response every one (really great this is the first time I have ever posted a question on the internet). Mac in SA some of the Dairy Farmers do use Augus bulls on their Holstien cows, I a not sure why the person that I brought the calves used this cross other than perhaps it is the bull that he has. Our next door neighbour has an Augus herd and he has two bulls one is a beef master one is a Augus. We have only been farmers for the last year and John (my husband) is a vegetable farmer I have horses and we were offered these two bull calves. I have hand reared a few bush buck and Duiker (small buck) so I know about cleanliness, we are in our very hot weather at the moment and that is why I decided to feed 4 x per day. We got them at 5 days old. I am seeing some Diary farmers on Saturday I will ask them why, what and when and give feed back on Monday, once again thank for all the input, Bye

-- Julie (jskinner@tellumat.com), January 31, 2002.

I just brought up 2 Angus on milk replacer and I'd say as long as they are taking a bottle or bucket you can go to 3 or even 2 times a day within a week. I feed the lowest mixing ratio listed on the bag for the first couple weeks and then gradually increase to the max unless there is sign of scours. Get them eating grain right away it will make weaning so much easier. You will probably have to force it in their mouth until they figure out what's going on. Keep an eye on a calf's nose as long as it stays wet everything is a okay. I worm after weaning. That is just up to the individual.

-- Joel Combs (jwcinpk@yahoo.com), February 02, 2002.

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