Holstein calves? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 7 Old 12-06-2012, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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Holstein calves?

Ok so we just got 5 holstein bull calves from a neighboring friend, to raise for a little old farmer, we farm his land for. Since he is elderly he can't keep up with the demands of raising young stock like he used to.
Well, when they were dropped they were taken from their mothers, we've had 3 for just over a month now. And they are already getting feed?? Is this ok or should it wait? I was always taught they are bottle fed for at least 3 months before introducing any kind of feed. They also drink from a bucket, I know this is ok to teach them.
As for the other two they will be bottle fed until they are a month old and then started on feed along with the rest. For some reason I just don't think its right . Am I wrong about this?

P.S. I only assist in helping feed them, since there are more calves than people to feed them....

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post #2 of 7 Old 12-06-2012, 08:03 PM
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Unfortunately in much of the cattle world, the push is to get them on feed asap. It takes less work for the caretaker and less costs in milk replacer, which is very expensive.
If the calves are going to end up at slaughter (you said bull calves, right?) then the farmer probably wants as much growth on them as possible, and feed does pack it on quicker.
But yes, your thinking is correct in that the longer the milk is going into baby the better.

If life span isn’t an issue (as in a short one) the shorter length of time on milk won’t make a huge difference for the calves overall long term health, but if they will be raised and castrated for pets/for keeps, then it might be a bigger deal and better to keep them on milk longer.
I suspect the former is what is going to happen…. So don’t name them or get attached.
(Sorry, not saying it is right how most farmers raise them or what happens to them, just the way it usually is.) Hopefully your calves will get good homes, and if that’s the intended destination talk to the owner about prolonging the milk for them.
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-07-2012, 07:12 AM
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our calves are on milk from their 3rd feeding (first 2 are colostrum) untill 5weeks old. Week 6 it's 1/2 strength milk replacer. Week 7 weaned.

After about a week old we leave a grain pail with them so they can start to nibble at the grain too. By the time we wean they should be eating 2-3pounds of a calf starter grain per day.

As far as the bottle feeding: we try to train them to a pail asap, except the couple groups of calves that stay on a mob feeder (rail hung pail w/ 10 nipples) is it right or wrong to go to a pail or stay on a bottle, not really. Only problem I see staying on a bottle too long is one still has to teach them to drink out of a pail at some point so easier to teach with something they want (milk) vs something most calves are so-so about untill weaned (water)

If you have any other questions feel free to message me or leave them here since calves is something I know a lot more about horses are something i'm learning a lot more about lol
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post #4 of 7 Old 12-07-2012, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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Yes Lockwood, they are going for butcher, but we've taken abandoned calves and did that, that's why it confused me. We name them anyway, we also halter train them (even though they don't like it and I get a run for my money LOL)
The first two are on a mixture of grain and milk, that way they'll take the grain too.
Wow thanks Tim62988! That's good to know.
Soon 3 will be pail fed grain and milk, we just have to construct a way for him to stay in his pen!! He's called Houdini for a reason!!!
Thanks for the answers!!

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post #5 of 7 Old 12-07-2012, 11:45 AM
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I would check with the farmer about any waste milk he might have since they are going to be butchered. It will be a cheaper way to keep them on milk longer since longer milk will have a benifit for meat growth
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-07-2012, 01:26 PM
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I would try to get them to eating grain as soon as possible. It is very labor intensive to hand raise them. It is also expensive.

Celeste
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-08-2012, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Tim62988, I told them why not buy a nanny cow for them, esp if the farm where we got the drops any more bull calves this winter. "Supposedly" there are no more until spring. O_O I will inquire about that thanks!!

Celeste, that's what we're doing, I just wasn't sure if it was right or not. :/ Milk replacer is outrageous in our area.

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