dbro wrote:Backhoe I have read many of your replies and you do seem to be a wealth of knowledge and i hope no one ticks you off so that you will not want to participate but I think your idea of the beef calves sounds great. So please give me further guidance, So forgive me but I am green and just learning so help me get this straight I will have the nurse cow keep her fed and happy with grazing, Hay and feed (What is the best particular feed)? Then on to the calve purchase I want them 1 week or less and make sure that they have had the colostrum which i assume is info that the auctioneer gives or who should you ask or is it all in the looks of the calve? then pen them together in a crate for how long just. Thanks I am sure I will have more to ask but I was not born or raised around cattle just over the past few years have i been considering them. With cd rates on my kids college fund laughable i am looking for a little more future return then the 0.62 per thousand a month. Thanks
Don't worry about me running off. There's way to many good folks here to let a few bad apples get the best of this place.
You need a mentor. A good mentor. Nurse cows are going to vary in attitude just like the people on this forum. At the same time, they all have something in common. If a nurse cow calves, I let her alone with her calf long enough to ensure the calf gets plenty of clostrums generally for three feedings. I strip out (milk) the rest of the clostrums and freeze it in jugs. If you use that clostrum later, thaw it out in hot water. Never microwave it. Then, when grafting, I put the cow's natural calf and the graft calves together in a pen. I let the cow into the crate in a different pen, then let the calves out into that pen. If you don't have a crate, you can try sponging the cows milk onto the entire body of the graft calf and letting that dry in. It gives the calf the cow's scent and can help. You can also put that cow in a head gate if you have that. When the calves quit nursing, the cow is put back out into the pasture. It is generally something about 15 minutes. This part can start slower but as the calves get older, it gets faster and faster commensurate with their hunger. I let them nurse twice daily and do my very best to keep it on an exact 12 hour interval. Once the calves are good and grafted, I turn them all out to pasture and keep a wary eye on things. It is best to do this on a weekend day for me. The calves will lay up much of that day. When they get up to nurse, I drop my chores and watch from a distance. The cow my butt a calf a time or two but generally they persist and it gets better over time. As long as those calves all nurse, I do not interfere. Usually things wind up with the natural calf in the front and the grafts coming in from the back door.
As far as splits go, when you are at the sale barn, the auctioneer is not going to be much help. It is fast and furious. He's got a job to do. Sit through several sales and strike up conversation with people attending who know. Stay away from the busy buyers. They are there to fill orders and have a job to do also. Listen to the old timers there. When you decided to buy, best thing to do is arrive early and check out the calves. Pairs will be split. The cow will have a number and generally the calves have the same number as the dam. Not always. Talk to someone working the pens. Look the calves over. A dry navel chord still attached can be there as long as 10 days. Could be gone in 5. No sure way to tell but it can be an indicator. Calves muscle structure is an indicator. Tail length in older calves but that won't help what you are doing.
When I am bidding, I work with the spotters in the ring with the calf. I will throw my hand directly at the spotter and he generally yells "YEEPPP" or something similar. His eyes are then scanning the crowd for a higher bid. If someone ups the bid he will point back at me and I will immediately bid again or nod. He'll go back to the crowd. If the price exceeds my likings, I shake my head to wave him off. The next time I bid, I try to go back to the same spotter. If I am buying 30 heifers, he'll know it eventually. He will spot calves coming thru and put two fingers down "split tail" looking at me. I am up in the crowd and nod. If I am not interested in that animal I'll give him a thank you sign for letting me know, and wave him off.
When you are after splits, ask the guys in then pens if the calves have the same number as the dam. Some barns put them one number apart and some give them the same number. Get the prospective calves numbers and go look at the dams. The older and poorer cows are likely the ones to be split. Healthy pairs will probably go as one price. You won't get those calves for put an asterisk or some annotation adjacent to their number on your list. The eventually BUYER may split them himself. Those are few and far between but it happens.
Never get caught up in the "games" at the auction. You don't "win" diddly when you make a buy. You have simply made an investment. There's no shame in dragging home an empty trailer.
Sweet feed works. Cubes work. Of course high dollar feeds work too. Usually my feeding to the nurse cow is simply something to entice her to run to the crate or head gate at feeding time. I don't feed her much more than a large coffee can.
Someone else posted info from MilkMaid. She's kind of young. She is a vet student. Don't let that age thing get in your way. MilkMaid is very sharp on this. Msscamp is older and likely just as knowledged about nurse calves and grafting. Neither of these two post a lot in this forum anymore and it is a shame. You can however go back and read through their postings and MM has some sticky postings in the front end of some forums that are useful too. There are many others. Some simply don't get involved with these threads much.
When it comes to bottle feeding in itself, I never use buckets. This goes back to the early 70's experience when Dad ran a bunch of bottle calves and nurse cows over and over. We tried buckets and the calves did not thrive as well. Msscamp has a thorough explanation as to why the bottles work better and I agree totally with that. Others here disagree.
More later if you want it. You can pm me too. Again, the best thing you can do is find someone to help you set it all up - a good mentor.
Our ancestors gave us this. They fought to make it what it is. All we have to do is defend it.