I used to buy some calves around 300 lbs. I started them out on a receiving/preconditioning feed either Purina or in more recent years from our co op. After they get to eating feed good then I switch them over to whatever ration I am feeding.
Precon feed, and Legume mix grass hay for the first two weeks, plus some lick tubs in the lot with them. Electrolytes in their water. Then switch to normal feed and good grass hay. Run them through the chute and give them inforce, and cd-t (for overeating).
If you have to buy drought hay, then send them to town and cut your losses.
How soon are you weaning? Try to at least get an intranasal vaccine in the calves and expose them to grain before weaning. The transition is really hard on those little guys if you're expecting them to eat something they've never seen before. Creep feeding is great, otherwise just feeding the herd for a little while before weaning lets the calves see and learn from the cows.
I usually start em out with a high grain sweet feed, honey grain, 14% creep or, you know, calf starter!! Lol
If penned, and they usually are for a while to wean anyway, good hay too.
Those type of calves usually sell pretty cheap around here because no one wants to take the risk. I think it's more like they are lazy and dont wanna take the time to care for them the way they need cared for...
I have early weaned calves in drought conditions at around 100kg (220Lbs) a couple of times and have had few problems, all have done well. I feed them twice a day with a 14% protein custom grain mix at about 1.5% daily. They have low quality hay at first while confined but then go out to graze what they can find themselves. I have found they have done well and cannot pick the difference in the heifers I retain nor the bulls I sell down the track to those reared in a good year but they keep getting the feed supplement.
I went to the U of I Dixon Springs beef day this week. They wean at 90 days if I’m not mistaken, and ship to Champaign. You can contact them to see their protocol, I’d say they’ve got it down pat by now.
I've done it but it's been awhile. A good calf protein pellet, all natural no urea, and grain along with good hay. Keep your groups small and if you can find a bottle calf that's been weaned and eating grain about that size get it. They will lead the others to feed and water.
I would scatter a little hay in troughs and put the grain on top lightly until they all are coming up to eat good. They need a lot of watching so you know what's going on with them.
I use a grain mix running 18% protein. Have even run it through self feeders using cshp as buffer when starting them. I try to limit hay to start with by hand feeding it everyday. When they are that small they need energy and protein. At that small of weight I don’t worry about cost since there intakes are low and it’s not much per head per day to start them right.