Any advice

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Re: Any advice

Post by greggy » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:36 pm

I am feeding some milk atm...

Will be getting a couple more tomorrow it seem, they are at weaning age, but will prob just feed them milk too for a week or so...

There is only one way too learn.

I would suggest reading...A LOT....and also reading forum threads on illness and problems....

If starting with 2 or 3, you will learn a lot.

Make sure you give them milk, and learn how to transition to other feeds. Follow your milk replacers guide.

The biggest thing with real young or small calves, is they must get nutrition from milk, they cannot live on grass or hay, the rumen must have some time and ecouragement too develop.

If you keep the milk up too them, it can be trouble free, but you also have to be prepared for possible loss, it happens, although they are hardy animals.



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Re: Any advice

Post by Montanaidiot » Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:57 am

I in no way expect to make any money. I'm already way in the negative with this project. I got a loafing shed built a corral and a head catch that a farmer friend donated to my crazieness and almost have my place fenced. been about -10k so far :(. I'm completely doing this for the fun of it. It will never be more then a few cows to butcher to feed my family and anyone who is hungry:)

I have tried to plan this out but I'm still very confused on a few areas. The timeline of getting calves and when to butcher so I can do it every fall.

I think i could run 2-4 on my place (28 acres). I'm not 100% sure so I would want to start less and not over graze my place. I have emailed the extension office to try and get more info but I guess they are too busy.

Different thoughts- buy 2 bottle calves every year. (first year buy a feeder also so I have something for the freezer this fall)

- buy 2 feeders every year and butcher in the fall. ( no winter feeding but feeders and way more expensive then bottle calves) + not getting to enjoy calves and make them your friend lol

This is kinda assuming it will take 18 months to get them 1200lbs...(thinking herfords if I can find some)

Or some variation of all this.

I also have to many questions on finishing them. But maybe another thread later :)

I just wanted to throw out I do have some cattle experience. Always been the hired man when I was young and still have friends and family who have farms and ranches. Moved away and was very blessed in life so now I can get back to what I enjoy. I can text and call any of them with immediate questions. But i know way less then i want them to know i know lol. So here i am :)
Last edited by Montanaidiot on Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Any advice

Post by Montanaidiot » Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:21 am

People start calving here around the end of the month so I think I will be able to start finding bottle calves soon. I can keep them in the corral until I get my fence finished when the ground thaws.

Any recommendations on types of milk replacer?

How long do I need to keep them on milk? ( never seem to find a straight answer)

Feeding twice a day enough?

Should I keep a little hay in with them incase they want to try it? It's been a mild winter but I can put out straw for bedding. Or I can build a little pen in my shop if it gets too cold.

What types of meds should I keep on hand for emergencies?

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Re: Any advice

Post by haase » Sat Jan 11, 2020 1:36 pm

We usually feed out 5 to six feeders a year for freezer beef, usually get them in the end of October or beginning of November, take them in for processing in September, there weight when we get them is around 600lbs and finish around 1100 to 1200lbs that's on pasture hay and feed, we have a self feeder that holds around 3 1/2 tons of feed, I usually buy them from the same farmer every year, there already weaned and there shots.

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Re: Any advice

Post by Jeanne - Simme Valley » Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:46 pm

Buy the best milk replacer. You should have Electrolytes on hand. You need to have an esophageal tuber and learn how to tube a calf. Like this: https://www.jefferspet.com/products/2-q ... pple-probe. Thermometer - a must. Get some kind of antibiotic from your vet for respiratory (what he recommends). I, personally, would give each calf a dose of Inforce 3, a shot of selenium (BoSe or Multimin90 - must get from vet), and vitamin A&D shot.
I do not raise bottle calves - but a calf is a calf.
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Re: Any advice

Post by greggy » Sat Jan 11, 2020 4:15 pm

Good milk replacer, whatever is reputable or available, basicically powdered milk.

Follow the directions, the ones here say twice day till x days old, then there is an option for once.

I do what I feel is right depending on animals response, milk is expensive, so I work on rumen developement asap, one mob I have now only 1 calf gets twice daily, all others once which is 50% of reccomended, but they are eating enough other high protien hard feed and rumen is working.

Do not, do not, overfeed young calves, do not be tempted to use more powder than the max for age, i.e if it says to use 2lb of powder over 2 feeds, if you want to do 3, or 4 feeds, divide the powder over those feeds. I think you should not do too many feeds, stick to the makers suggestion, which seems to always be 2 on powders down here.

Each calf is going to need about a bag of milk which are 50lb here, you wont be able to do less, weaning them purely depends on what and how much hard feed that is high in protien they are consuming, and this varies between animal...

It wont hurt feeding them milk for a long time if you want to spend the money and time....

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Re: Any advice

Post by farmerjan » Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:10 am

Okay, here is my 2 cents. I have raised alot of calves over the 40 + years.

Milk replacer. Get 20/20 ALL MILK milk replacer. DO NOT FEED a soy based milk replacer. The calves do not absorb the soy well and actually will more often than not get scours and actually will be mal-nourished on the soy based stuff.

Most call for 1 bottle (2 quarts per bottle) fed two times a day. Do not start them on once a day, they need that milk. It is their main source of nutrition for at least 4-6 weeks. Mix according to directions. Do not think "more is better". Calves do not need all they want when you are bottle feeding. When they nurse from their momma's they are getting alot less per feeding than that bottle, but more often. You can increase to 3 bottles per day if you are bored and want to take the time...at about 3weeks if they are doing good. Or increase to 1 1/2 bottles per feeding. If they get too much milk, and don't get scours or have any problems, they will not want to be trying the grain or be encouraged to eat feed and that is what you want because milk replacer is expensive.
There are things like scours, but that is not something I am going to advise on right now.

A calf can be introduced to some grain....at about 2 weeks they will be nosing around some. Use a good high quality calf feed, usually 16 % protein. I use non-medicated but if it has a cocidiostat in it that is not all bad. Some in a calf feeder so they can try it, play with it. Put a little in their mouth when they get done with their bottle and let them get a taste.

Feed the bottles for 8 weeks and sometimes 10 weeks. The last 2 weeks, cut down to once a day IF the calf is eating feed good. They need the nutrition from the feed, should be eating 2-4% of their body weight when you go to weaning them. You can also let them have some hay from 2 weeks on, but they will mostly be just trying it out for the first few weeks. Good quality hay, preferably 2nd or 3rd cutting. That will have more nutrition and will be "finer bladed" so not as stalky and more edible.

Calf should have clean water available from about a week or 2 old. They will learn to drink it. if there are 2 calves together they will learn by competition with each other as one will smell something or taste it then the other will want in on it.

From weaning til 6-8 months they will need a calf grower, plus hay; 2-4 % of their body weight. I try to get them eating about 4-5 lbs or 1/2 to 1 gal of grain by 3-4 months. Each one is different. a 200 lb calf @ say 3 months should be eating 4-6 lbs minimum. grain once a day, or split in 2 feedings if you have time. Hay free choice in a hay feeder so they eat it and don't waste it.
They will be trying grass as soon as they get a couple months, mine get all they want. They will grow better if they have grain, grass and hay when they are young. After 5+ months, grass and some grain is fine.

A word to the wise. Buy the calves directly from a farmer not from the stockyard. You want them to have gotten at least 1 and preferably 2 feeding of colostrum. The stockyard is a place where they will be exposed to every disease and "bug" there is and their immune systems are very immature. They will catch everything, and it can kill them before you know they are very sick.

My advice is to get 2 feeders, 3-500 lbs, for starters. Get a feel for feeding them as they should be weaned. Then they will be ready to kill the following year. In the meantime, get a couple of bottle calves a few weeks later when you feel a little more comfortable. Then they will be yearlings the next year and you will be able to then kill 2 every year....
Get a feel for what the pastures will hold. Where are you located? Most pastures, on an average year here will take 1 head to every 2 acres. More on wet years, less on dry years.

That's enough for starters.....

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Re: Any advice

Post by Montanaidiot » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:29 am

Wow that's alot of good info. Thank you!!

I'm in central mt (bull mountains north of billings) I have 28 acres. Prob 25 or 26 that will be pasture for them. I have it 75% fenced before the ground froze. But I think I can keep them in the corral until it warms up and I can finish it. I will start asking around for feeders and hopefully find some.

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Re: Any advice

Post by farmerjan » Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:38 pm

Keeping them in a smaller enclosed are for at least a week or two is necessary for ANY new animal. They need to get to know you, and you need to be able to watch them closely just to make sure there aren't any problems. There are vaccinations that they should get. Get in touch with a large animal vet. Let him know you are "new" at this and that you want to try to start off right. Listen to what he/she has to say. Don't mean you have to do everything but learn. Go to the county extension service or get on their website. There are seminars that different ones do and go to them. It might be way above your "head" but you will learn something each time. If there is a county association, join it. You will get contacts that way. Got a neighbor with cattle? Offer to help them..... maybe working the cattle through the chutes when they vaccinate, or wean or get ready to turn cattle out to pasture.

Regardless of what you get, and I really think that feeders for the first is safer than a baby calf, I have 2 things I do. Vaccinate for blackleg.... clostridiums. An animal can die too quick from it and you won't know they have it until too late. I am a big proponent of KILLED virus vaccines (kv). Many like Modified Live vaccines (mlv). But I ALWAYS vaccinate for 2 things. Blackleg and Lepto. Lepto will cause abortions so if you are dealing with steers, then not a big thing. If you do nothing else do the blackleg. I have gone to using a killed vaccine that is called Triangle 10hb. Again, there are several. Ask the vet. Also, worming the cattle. There are pour on type that work pretty well in general. Any bought cattle here get a worming because we don't know what they have been exposed to before. We do not worm all our cattle regularly, trying to breed for animals that seem to be more resistant, but we do hit the ones that seem to need it. But we always do anything new we bring in.

So at a minimum, blackleg vaccinate and initial worming.
And find a vet because so many things can be easily fixed if you are willing to work with someone who is more knowledgeable, and then you will learn what to panic over and what you can treat or do yourself. Plus, getting a couple of shots from a vet when you only have a few animals is often cheaper than buying a bottle of something and having it go out of date in the fridge. A vet that you have a good relationship with will be willing to prescribe something without making a trip every time if you get to know them. If you only call when it is an emergency, and have an attitude, or are slow to pay, you will find they just don't have the time or inclination to want to do for you. We only have a vet a couple times a year at most, but we have developed this relationship over years. I can call up tomorrow and tell him I have this & this going on and he will tell me to stop and pick up a bottle of so and so at the office and him not make a trip out. But you have to be willing to have them come out in the beginning and get to know you and be able to see you are a decent person, taking reasonably good care of your animals, and go from there. You will hopefully need a vet infrequently, steers are not as "needy" as breeding animals, but it is nice to know that they are there for you to call.

If there are any offerings of a class for BQA certification....GO TO IT. It is for beef quality assurance and is the basics of ways to do proper handling and shot/vaccination protocol. You might never need BQA certification, but you will learn what is preferred, and sometimes required, for proper vaccination of cattle.

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Re: Any advice

Post by Hippie Rancher » Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:49 pm

there are formulas for estimating forage, you can go stand in your pasture and eyeball how big of a square would feed an animal for a day if you clipped that (1/2 bale?), then divide how many squares into your pasture to get animal days. play around, be conservative, leave some for ground cover/wildlife etc.

here is another way to begin increasing your forage

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Re: Any advice

Post by darcelina4 » Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:28 am

Farmerjan gave you a lot of good advice. But I will disagree about sourcing calves. I've never lost a salebarn bottle calf but I have lost farm buy calves. No one at the salebarn is lying to you. You get what you see. I prefer to buy calves split off cows. I get to see the mom. I have an idea why they were split- bad udder, limping, thin, bad mother, ect. One of my best buys was a heifer split off an old thin cow missing teeth in February. The calf was thin and poor but turned around quickly. I go early and really observe the cattle in the pair pen. I dont buy calves with droopy ears or scours or lethargic. As soon as I'm done buying, I go pay and collect the calves. I get them home fast. I'm an hour from the salebarn I prefer. But there is one I've bought at 6 hours away. I get the calves home and let them rest an hour. Then I feed them. These calves dont know what a bottle is so we back them in a corner, straddle them, put the nipple in their mouth and hold it there. They do get the idea once the milk starts flowing but it can be a wrestle job. By the third day they run to me when they see the bottle. Get medicine from a vet before getting calves. At a minimum get banamine, baytril. Get an esophageal feeder. Get some electrolytes. A thermometer. Get an all milk, milk replacer non-medicated. I start feeding grain at day one. After every bottle stuff some in their mouth and have some in the pen. Have a bucket of water in the pen. For the first month-old not let the calf get wet and keep it out of the wind. Calves nursing mommas can get wet abd be fine but they are getting a reinforcement of immunity with each nursing and your milk replacer calf isn't getting that.

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Re: Any advice

Post by backhoeboogie » Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:54 am

darcelina4 wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:28 am
Farmerjan gave you a lot of good advice. But I will disagree about sourcing calves. I've never lost a salebarn bottle calf but I have lost farm buy calves. No one at the salebarn is lying to you. You get what you see. I prefer to buy calves split off cows. I get to see the mom.
I'm right there with you. Split calves with a dry navel have had colostrum's. You can pick up good beef calves. Input costs to all bottle calves are equal. When its time to sell, they are not equal.

Nurse cows are my preference to bottle feeding.

The original poster is about to get an education. Its not going to be thousands and thousands of dollars. You get out of this what you put in it. If you don't have the time, don't bother.

Every one of us started somewhere. 7 or 8 beef calves off of a nurse cow is good money and profit. Absolute.

I can say that I have finally lost one. Or, I can no longer claim that I have never lost a bottle baby.
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Re: Any advice

Post by greggy » Fri Jan 24, 2020 6:17 am

Sooner or later you have to lose some, if they miss colostrum, then they are marked already, and I think there are plenty that are pulled off straight away.

When they get ill, you will learn the most and will be consumed, I am not talking runny poop, I mean really ill, if you do not act, they will die, even then, you may be fighting an internal defect & you cannot win that fight.

My last group of 6, I lost 1 after 3 days, 3 others went down, 1 needed milk, was supposed to be weaned, she just was weak, milk fixed that quick, another was laying down but was a belly pain, she had energy, so was a wait and see, another went down, was weak, was already on milk and doing well, was respiratory, she needed a lot of help & antibiotics, she has had a month or so of intensive nursing from me, she also gets special attention feeding, is now back to where she started, but a full month or more of growth loss, she would be say 150lbs now while pen mates are mainly 230-40lbs. Many days I was tubing twice daily milk, tubing electrolyte at times, monitoring all hard feed intake etc, basically, a bucket load of extra work.

Compare that to the group of 9 prior, not one issue apart from 2 laggards on the growth, and ringworm, not one extra min spent with any calf being on ground or in pain, they were a mixed mob from all over the shop too, but they all ate and drank well.

Both mobs treated the same, both mobs used same feed, both on same property and same yard area.

Same sort of thing on a prior mob, had trouble with 2, rest did not miss a beat.

So you will have times of trouble, that is, unless you can get them from people you know who can assure they had mothers milk at birth for say 48 hrs, had no known issues, were handled by kind people etc etc

Imagine being born, we can all assume that is dramatic enough without any of us memorizing it, then, your mum is taken away, or you are, the people that did it were busy for next 4 hrs, then you were given some feed, but not the mothers milk, or, lets say you happened to get her milk, then your taken away, stuck in some pen, waiting for billy bob to pick you up, you then had a 5 hour trip by the time they loaded, drove you around, then dropped you in some dung and disease ridden yard, then billy bobs cousin had to have a few hrs before you got chased down to some other pen, that had some water and some sort of feed thrown in there, lucky if you were offered a milk....then you had to wait for the clown show the next day, where there was a be nice of a racquet, with all these strange people and beasts around you, then some kind sod finally bought you, where you had to wait another 4hrs so you could get a 4hr trip home, to a new home, with all sorts of new feeds and things happening......jeez, I am stressed thinking about it all, and this is prob a good couple of days for a bottle calf !

So, be kind too them, try and lower stress....if you think like this, it is easy to see why a 5 month old always on mum has a head start.

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Re: Any advice

Post by farmerjan » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:08 pm

My advice was for someone that was getting baby calves directly off a dairy. There are very few here that are split off a beef cow at the stockyard. Hardly ever at any of the 3 or 4 yards that I have gone to regularly over the years. There will be a few, but not with any regularity. Sometimes it is because there is a twin. There will be some black calves sold at the one yard, but 99% of the time they are 1/2 dairy 1/2 beef and are newborns. That is why I suggested buying directly off a farm. If you can get a beef calf split off a cow due to her age, poor udder or bad feet or not much milk, then there is a good chance they have had colostrum from the cow even if it was not as good as from a younger healthier cow. But if the calf has made it to the point of a dry navel at a week or so, then you have a much better chance. I was under the general impression that the OP was thinking brand new calf from a stockyard which I cannot recommend. Everyone has their preference. It is one thing for someone who has a little experience to deal with the problems that come with stressed calves, but a total newbie just needs all they possibly can, to go right.
Also, any time you have to start doctoring a calf, you are losing..... because the calf is going to be "behind" as @greggy said. Sure you say it is only your time, but when you start to add up the different treatments, electrolytes, all the shots, etc. and so on, that calf will not make you any money. It is alright for someone who is not trying to make a living, but when you keep dumping money into an animal that is a "poor doer" it just isn't practical or even smart. I have been the "bleeding heart" for many years, thinking I could turn around that calf with scours, or the one that was weak, or something. At one time, you could come out ahead even putting some money and time into them. At todays prices, you cannot. You can hope to at least break even, or to not lose too much. I don't say that you shouldn't try to save an animal that gets sick. But to start out with something that is such a high risk is just not smart.

I also agree that raising a calf on a nurse cow is the way to go. I have made money over the years doing it.... even with holstein bull calves. Today, it is not near as good a deal. Even with calves(dairy- holstein bull calves) only bringing from $10 to maybe $50 here. There is a smaller and smaller market for holstein feeder steers here, and to get much more than $.50/.60 lb that is good. You have more money in them in feed then they will bring at 5-600 lbs. Been there, done it .

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