Bottle calf - weaning herself...??

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ksmit454

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Bottle calf is almost 16 weeks old (I know some wean much earlier than 16 weeks). She was getting 3 bottles a day, then down to 2, and recently I’ve cut her down to only 1/2 morning and night. Now to 1/2 only at night. It’s almost like she’s weaning herself though. She has 24/7 access to grazing green grass. When I go to feed she hears me and comes running and bawling for her bottle. I give her the 1/2 bottle and there isn’t really any sucking going on, she just kind of “gums” the nipple and drinks maybe 1/4. I’m thinking she’s not sucking aggressively because she’s full from eating all day...? I’ve been trying to get her on starter pellets but she’s not real interested. Super healthy calf just thought it’s funny that she’s not really sucking but just gums at the nipple. Anyone had an experience like this before?
 

MurraysMutts

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Last one I had that wouldn't eat feed, i locked up in a 10x10 with feed and water. Didnt take long for her to figure it out.
🤣😂🤣😂

I've also found calfmanna top dressing entices them a bit. As well as just a regular ol sweet feed. I've been getting a high grain sweet feed that they like also.

If shes doing well tho, itll come with time..
 

Brute 23

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I moved my bottle calf to a big pen with some heifers I'm weaning. He has his own section that is set up like a creep pen where only he can fit. He has pretty much quite eating feed. Ive caught him grazing the green grass in the creep pen where the heifers cant get to. There is also good hay for all the calves free choice. He is still on the bottle twice a day but doesnt go at it near as hard as he use to.

Long story short... I think he is doing the same thing. He is actually looking better IMO.
 
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ksmit454

ksmit454

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Last one I had that wouldn't eat feed, i locked up in a 10x10 with feed and water. Didnt take long for her to figure it out.
🤣😂🤣😂

I've also found calfmanna top dressing entices them a bit. As well as just a regular ol sweet feed. I've been getting a high grain sweet feed that they like also.

If shes doing well tho, itll come with time..
Lol!! Thank you for the recommendations. I can try sweet feed too... got tons of that, finishing 3 steers at the moment too.
 
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ksmit454

ksmit454

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I moved my bottle calf to a big pen with some heifers I'm weaning. He has his own section that is set up like a creep pen where only he can fit. He has pretty much quite eating feed. Ive caught him grazing the green grass in the creep pen where the heifers cant get to. There is also good hay for all the calves free choice. He is still on the bottle twice a day but doesnt go at it near as hard as he use to.

Long story short... I think he is doing the same thing. He is actually looking better IMO.
Sounds about like my calf. She is 16 weeks old so I know she's getting older anyway.
 

Katpau

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Doesn't bottle feeding a 4 month old calf seem like overkill to anyone but me? I know people who wean their calves off the the cows at that age. It happens often in drought situations like we are experiencing now in the west. If your calf has access to good grass, I don't think they really need anything more. They won't be as big as a calf that was on the cow or receiving grain, but a 400 pound calf often brings almost as much as a 550 pound one. I had a cow die suddenly from unknown causes last year when her calf was just 17 weeks (4 months old). She had no choice but to remain with the herd on grass, since I figured it would be more stressful to separate and feed her. I doubt feeding her would have penciled out anyway, if you include all the extra time on just one animal. She did fine, but she did wean about 100 pounds behind the herd. Her mom was 15 years old, and her calves the last year or two were somewhat behind the herd average anyway, so that was part of it.
 

TCRanch

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I've only had one true bottle calf. She was a rejected twin and I did not allow her to join the herd because her mama literally tried to kill her. Kept her at the barn with 2 orphans that were around 3 months old (and certainly too old to start on a bottle). Baby girl got a bottle until I weaned the rest of the herd at 6 months. Did she need it that long? Probably not. But 8 years later, she's a big cow that raises big calves. My other "bottle calves" were really just supplemented: mama had mastitis, wasn't producing enough, calf was a twin, orphaned at a young enough age they would take a bottle, etc. They have always been with the herd and generally wean themselves off the bottle when they figure out how to rob.

That said, I don't creep feed but I do feed cubes year 'round (a very small amount every few days in the summer). It's primarily for the calves and they're all eating cubes months before they're weaned. Calves that have been supplemented are the first ones in line when I pull up with a bucket. As long as they're healthy, fat & happy, it's all good! Do whatever works best for you & your operation.
 
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ksmit454

ksmit454

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Doesn't bottle feeding a 4 month old calf seem like overkill to anyone but me? I know people who wean their calves off the the cows at that age. It happens often in drought situations like we are experiencing now in the west. If your calf has access to good grass, I don't think they really need anything more. They won't be as big as a calf that was on the cow or receiving grain, but a 400 pound calf often brings almost as much as a 550 pound one. I had a cow die suddenly from unknown causes last year when her calf was just 17 weeks (4 months old). She had no choice but to remain with the herd on grass, since I figured it would be more stressful to separate and feed her. I doubt feeding her would have penciled out anyway, if you include all the extra time on just one animal. She did fine, but she did wean about 100 pounds behind the herd. Her mom was 15 years old, and her calves the last year or two were somewhat behind the herd average anyway, so that was part of it.
I know most people wean much earlier. I have the time and milk replacer so I was continuing to give her bottles. But she’s weaning herself now because she’s got so much green grass. Only getting 1/2 bottle at night now, I think she’s about ready for no more bottles lol!
 
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ksmit454

ksmit454

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I've only had one true bottle calf. She was a rejected twin and I did not allow her to join the herd because her mama literally tried to kill her. Kept her at the barn with 2 orphans that were around 3 months old (and certainly too old to start on a bottle). Baby girl got a bottle until I weaned the rest of the herd at 6 months. Did she need it that long? Probably not. But 8 years later, she's a big cow that raises big calves. My other "bottle calves" were really just supplemented: mama had mastitis, wasn't producing enough, calf was a twin, orphaned at a young enough age they would take a bottle, etc. They have always been with the herd and generally wean themselves off the bottle when they figure out how to rob.

That said, I don't creep feed but I do feed cubes year 'round (a very small amount every few days in the summer). It's primarily for the calves and they're all eating cubes months before they're weaned. Calves that have been supplemented are the first ones in line when I pull up with a bucket. As long as they're healthy, fat & happy, it's all good! Do whatever works best for you & your operation.
My calf was a twin too. To be honest, I just have the time to keep giving her bottles so why not. She’s weaning herself which is nice though.
 

Katpau

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I understand. You are still feeding because you enjoy it. That is a perfectly acceptable reason.

I kept a bottle calf as a cow back when the kids were still little. I put her out with the herd at about 4 months and she was on grass only until we started feeding in the fall. Then she got the same hay as the rest. She never really would eat the calf starter I tried to give her before she went out with the herd anyway. She preferred grass.

I looked up her records and I see she went on to produce 8 calves before I culled her for hoof rot. The main reason I kept her was, I thought the kids were attached. She was a real pain in the butt. She wouldn't move when you wanted and I remember one time when I was on crutches and tried to get her to move along. I poked her with the crutch and she turned around and pushed me over. She was never angry mean, but she knew she was bigger and she did what she wanted. When we shipped her I called my son, thinking he would be sad. By then he was in college. He said "it's about time. I hated working with that B....." I've never kept a bottle calf as a cow since. She was a pain from the start. We tried to halter break her as a calf. She would lay down on her side as soon as the halter went on and refuse to get up. I'll admit this is the only calf we ever tried to halter break and we did not know what we were doing. I have halter broke plenty of foals though, and never had an issue like that.
 

MurraysMutts

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I know most people wean much earlier. I have the time and milk replacer so I was continuing to give her bottles. But she’s weaning herself now because she’s got so much green grass. Only getting 1/2 bottle at night now, I think she’s about ready for no more bottles lol!
My lil Annie was weaned off milk about 8 weeks. I deeply regret it. She just hasn't done well even on feed. I'll probly be feeding the 2 I have now til about 4 months. I think they just do much better!

And I'll second the pain in the butt comment. Seven, my heifer that I've managed to keep this time, is the BIGGEST pita!
Like was said. Wont move when ya want her to, and moves when ya dont want her to! Lmao! 🤣

I guess we are gonna see what she does tho! Shes with the bull....
 

Hereford2

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I have a cow , that I took off the mom at 3 weeks old, the cow was 15 and her feet were shot, so she could barely stand. This cow still moos if you have a bottle where she can see it, she is due with her fourth calf any day now. She is super gentle and halter broke, but she respects my space and moves when she's supposed to. She's Hereford Angus and about 1/4 Holstein you can't tell she has any dairy in her, except for super short scurs and a lot of milk, she weans on average a 600 plus pound calf, so far all her calves are polled, they're also all been bull calves, I wouldn't mind keeping a Heifer from her. I didn't know that replacement bottle calves were a pain until I read it on here lol.
 

TCRanch

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I have a cow , that I took off the mom at 3 weeks old, the cow was 15 and her feet were shot, so she could barely stand. This cow still moos if you have a bottle where she can see it, she is due with her fourth calf any day now. She is super gentle and halter broke, but she respects my space and moves when she's supposed to. She's Hereford Angus and about 1/4 Holstein you can't tell she has any dairy in her, except for super short scurs and a lot of milk, she weans on average a 600 plus pound calf, so far all her calves are polled, they're also all been bull calves, I wouldn't mind keeping a Heifer from her. I didn't know that replacement bottle calves were a pain until I read it on here lol.
I know Murry has seen this pic but worth sharing again. My one true bottle calf, getting a reward after having her stitches taken out (in the pasture) after prolapsing with her first calf - in the middle of the night. In one end, out another!
 

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