2 1/2 month old orphaned bull calf... HELP!
So, I raised Irish Dexter cattle years ago, and all my calves were messed with daily, so taming and training them really was no big issue.
HOWEVER...Today I was given a 2 1/2 month old Angus bull calf who lost his mother last week. He was previously not handled, so he is totally not cool with human contact at all. He's eating and drinking well on his own, thankfully, which was a huge concern when I took him in. I really didn't want to stress him out more by trying to bottle feed him. Poor baby.
SOOO... this is my quandary. HOW do I gentle this little guy? Currently he's in my stock trailer until the ground hardens up again and we can back him down to the barn to put him in the stall.
For today, I just gave him some feed, water, and hay and am leaving him to settle in and adjust to what has just happened to him. I think me pushing my presence on him any more than that right now will only stress him out more.
Does ANYONE have any suggestions on what I can do from here to help this boy settle in and begin to accept my presence?
Here's a pic of the calf. Hubby is out getting bedding to put down for him in there. I'm also getting a couple bales of alfalfa from our neighbor to feed him since he's no longer able to nurse his momma.
If you have portable round pen panels (or cattle panels), you might put some panels up around the door of the trailer so he can come out of the trailer and get used to the environment, seeing you walk around, etc will help him adapt. If he lets you catch him, I'd hold him like you would a newborn foal to touch him all over and get him used to being handled (I can't remember what they call that desensitization process). When you're done, hold him gently but firmly until he stands quietly and breathes normally and then let him go -- you would want him to walk off, not bolt off.
Are you planning to have a steer eventually or are you keeping him intact? Your future plans for him would figure into the method you want to use.
I have no advice but have to say that he is so darn fugly he is cute lol He is such a hairy little beast.
Ah, Thank you!! I don't know what my plans are for him just yet, and I think a lot of my decision will be based on his personality as he matures.
As of right now, he won't let you get within 5 feet of him before he panics and starts running around in the trailer. I figure at least for today I won't push him...I will just let him settle in and see that I'm not out to hurt him and that I also bring the food. I do plan on halter breaking him regardless of whether I keep him a bull or steer him. If he stays a bull, I will either sell him as a yearling, or possibly rent him out to some of the cattle farms around here. I'm leaning more toward making him a steer, though, and just letting him be a pet.
If he's drinking well, you can give him a bucket of milk replacer if you think he still needs it.
We had an orphaned calf last year, we don't handle our cows other than the initial grab 'em and band/treat/ear tag them right after birth and run them through the chute a few times a year for shots/care. I sat with a bucket of grain and slowly the calf would get closer and closer to eat and then he would let me rub his head and his itchy ears and slowly accepted people. He had a halter on a few times, didn't appreciate it but put up with it. He got to the point where he was in a 30 acre pasture with all the the cows and he would RUN to me (well more like running to my grain bucket). He's back to wild now, went out with all the other cows and no longer needs to be individually fed.
Cows are pretty trusting and curious. We don't handle our cows but just walking amongst them, bringing food, etc... and most will let us rub their heads and pet them a bit. Herman the bull LOVES people always coming to see if you've got anything good in your pockets.
I second the milk replacer. And would crouch down and try to hand feed him once in a while. He might get curious and start approaching you.
What a cutie!
Cows are fun. Just let him settle for a few days. I'd run him into a round pen or stall if you can set up some chutes to do it so he can see around and get used to seeing people about. Don't over-feed him, let him clean up once a day or so. Pretty soon, he'll realize that when he's hungry, you humans are the ones showing up with the food. Once that's in his head, start scratching his head around where his horn buds are (was he disbudded, or are you going to have to deal with that?) and he'll turn into a puppy. The way to win bovine over is through their stomachs. They love treats.
My Dexters were all pets as well as my breeding stock. I love cows. :wink:
~~Sharpie, he's polled so thankfully I don't have to worry about that. I had my Dexter bull dehorned as a calf, and I swore...SWORE...I would never do that again. All my calves born on my place after that were allowed to grow their horns.
As soon as the mud pit that is our small pasture (where the horses are right now) dries up, we will be backing the trailer down to the barn so he can go into the stall. If it gets cold enough tonight, we might even be able to do that first thing in the morning.
Hamish (that's his name now hehehe!) is eating very well in spite of the hard week he's had and the move today. He cleaned up all the hay I put in for him this morning, and this afternoon I put some calf creep pellets in there and he went to town! He's drinking well also, which is a big relief.
Thank you everyone for the help! I've not had a calf that I haven't had since birth (and were completely used to me from day 1), so I'm really not sure what I'm doing. :shock::shock:
I'm already in love with him. LOL!!!
Here's a pic of him right after I put his calf pellets in the bucket. He didn't even know I was behind him taking a picture!
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