We are bottle feeding a calf for the first time.
It is a pretty simple process.
- Feed the calf a bottle 2-3 bottles a day
- Watch for scours
- Provide pasture, water & good quality hay (ours is alphafa)
- Have a good, free-choice, mineral program available (to learn what a good mineral program is go here)
Bottle feeding is not a big deal. If you wanted to start your own dairy or beef herd bottle calves would be a great (inexpensive) way to do it. To buy a full grown cow can cost over a thousand dollars (or $2000, or $3000, or more depending on the cow and breed). Bottle calves can be found in my area starting at $250. If you buy several at once you can get them for even less.
Starting with bottle calves would not only save you money, you would also have the sweetest, people-loving herd on planet earth.
We plan to continue Norman on 2 bottles a day until he is about 3 months old. Then we will go to one. By 4 months old he’ll be on pasture and hay like everyone else.
Our bottle-baby is growing like a weed. He’s still my Baby-Schnookems-Pumpkin and as cute as ever.
His name is Norman and you can find his debut here.
He lives in a field with Rosie (our Jersey milk cow) and Rosie’s calf Guinevere (more on Guin here). Since Rosie has decided to tolerate him sneaking a snack or two from time to time he is now down to 2 bottles a day.
This is nice change from 3 bottles a day because it just seemed like all we ever did was feed the calf. 2 bottles is better than 3. Zero bottles would be even better.
I have 2 Tips on Bottle Feeding I would like to add to my original list. (original list of 3 things: here)
- Fences are Friends
If you can get a gate, fence, or sturdy object between you and the calf while bottle-feeding, do it. If you have ever watched a calf nurse from a mama cow you probably saw him (or her) banging their head into the udder. This is normal behavior that stimulates the udder to ‘let down’ additional milk for the hungry calf. This head-butting doesn’t hurt the mama cow.
Head-butting during bottle feeding can, however, be annoying.
Our calf (and I hear most others) don’t realize that head-butting the bottle will not make the milk come out any faster, nor will it make any more milk appear. Head-butting comes with the territory. We have found it helpful to position ourselves on the other side of a gate while feeding Norman. It limits his head-butting ability and damages.
- After you finish feeding the calf – Run. Especially if you did not listen to tip #1 and are in the same field with him.
Bottle feeding calves is adorable, exciting and fun…………….. for about a week. Then it won’t stop raining and you still have to feed him. The calf is adorable, but feeding him is not.
Even if the world is a messy, soaking-wet swamp, the baby must eat. Slurp!
He empties his yummy bottle.
As soon as Baby-Schnookems-Pumpkin finishes his bottle he immediately starts looking for an udder. If Rosie isn’t in plain sight he turns on the person holding the bottle.
Nudging, bumping, smearing his soaking wet, milky, slobbery head all over the front and back of my jeans trying to find an udder.
Bang. Nudge. Bump. “There’s got to be one here somewhere.”
No, Norman, I don’t have an udder.
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Stay dry friends!