Bottle Feeding Calves.
We have a bottle baby!
A week ago, we thought our girl, Faith, was going to pull through. We had complete confidence in her determination to fight and in our vet’s ability to go where no other vet had gone before. We were so sure she was going to make it that we got her a little-baby-schnookems-pumpkin ………….. ie: a 3 day old baby calf.
Faith was so depressed after her miscarriage. We knew a calf would be just the thing to cheer her up, give her some spunk and help out with the milking.
We had no way of knowing that Faith’s kidney’s had failed and she would be leaving us in a week.
If you missed the drama, like sad endings or just need a good cry, go:
Faith is gone, but Norman is here!
And, boy is he a cutie! Norman is a Jersey-Beef cross (his mamma was a Jersey, his daddy was a beef breed). He came from a wonderful, Amish farm. His mama died delivering him. Before he was a week old he came to live at our place.
He has brought smiles, spunk and life to our homestead.
Norman is a healthy, feisty bull-calf. He got to enjoy gallons of colostrum for a week thanks to his adoptive mommy, Faith.
When Faith took the turn for the worst we separated Norman from her and began bottle-feeding him. He loves his bottles.
3 Things I’ve Learned About Bottle Feeding
1. Easy Feeding Schedule
Calves only need bottles 3 times a day (2 times when they are older), unlike my breastfed children who preferred to nurse 7-8 times a day. Bottle calves eat during the day and sleep at night. Which is also nice.
2. Use Non-medicated Milk Replacer if possible
Every farm store within 45 miles has medicated milk replacer. Non-medicated is a little more challenging to find.
Why would I feed a healthy calf milk-replacer that includes antibiotics? Just as they do in people, antibiotics remove good bacteria from the gut. When a healthy animal is given antibiotics it can cause imbalances and problems. It can even make a well animal sick when they are given medications they don’t need.
Non-medicated. That’s the route we are taking.
3. Bottle Calves won’t turn down a Free Meal
The third thing I’ve learned about bottle-feeding is: Even if there is another milk source available; the calf will still happily except 3 bottles a day.
Likewise, if there are 3 bottles being served daily, a calf will still take full advantage of other milk sources.
Let me explain……….
You will not believe what happened when we put Norman in the field with Rosie and Guinevere.
Not sure who on earth Rosie and Guinevere are?
Rosie is a Jersey cow who came to live at our homestead in March. Guin is her calf, who came with her. Throughout Faith’s illness we have had Rosie and Guin in a separate field.
When we put Norman in the field with Rosie he ran straight to Rosie’s udder and began nursing.
Lesson #3 on Bottle Calves is to watch out for too much food.
I’m pretty sure Norman would literally eat himself to death if we provided enough food. It’s called scours or scouring.
Calf Scours is basically baby-cow diarrhea. It is dangerous and can be fatal. We are watching Norman closely, especially since we don’t know exactly how much he is eating (from Rosie).
The good news is that Rosie is not a high producer and is feeding 2 calves. The other good news is that Norman’s BM’s are solid.
Now Rosie has 2 babies. One black, obnoxious, ornery punk who still won’t let me pet her. And One little-Baby-Schnookems-Pumpkin…….. who may just be the cutest thing in the whole world.
To read about the black, obnoxious punk go here.
Sometimes she loves him.
Sounds about right……….
Don’t worry – when she kicks my new baby, I tell her to be nice. She’s coming around.
Be sure to follow the blog here to get all the latest news, tips and adventures.
If you need me, I’ll be in the front field with my Schnookems,