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gailbelanger

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I just found this forum which is a great resource. I'm from Paris, TX.
I just "adopted" two young heifer calves. BJ a Jersey/Holstien is 3.5 months, weaned and Coco a half limousin 1/4 shorthorn, 1/4 jersey is 4 weeks bottle baby. And she's giving me a headache trying to figure out how to get her to eat some grain. So I will be asking lots of questions because I never raised cattle really before.

Also please forgive my terminology, I'm in the learning stage.
 

Travlr

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I just found this forum which is a great resource. I'm from Paris, TX.
I just "adopted" two young heifer calves. BJ a Jersey/Holstien is 3.5 months, weaned and Coco a half limousin 1/4 shorthorn, 1/4 jersey is 4 weeks bottle baby. And she's giving me a headache trying to figure out how to get her to eat some grain. So I will be asking lots of questions because I never raised cattle really before.

Also please forgive my terminology, I'm in the learning stage.

For cripe sake don't start a calf that young on grain. Until it is well established on grass, forage, grain is completely unnecessary. It's really pretty much wasted unless you are getting the calf ready to slaughter as any kind of meaningful portion of their feed. In fact too much grain can cause more problems than feeding no grain at all. I used a coffee can full to train my cattle to come when I called them and to keep them friendly, but otherwise I never fed grain unless I was fattening freezer beef.

Cattle are pretty forgiving. Welcome to the club.
 
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gailbelanger

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For cripe sake don't start a calf that young on grain. Until it is well established on grass, forage, grain is completely unnecessary. It's really pretty much wasted unless you are getting the calf ready to slaughter as any kind of meaningful portion of their feed. In fact too much grain can cause more problems than feeding no grain at all. I used a coffee can full to train my cattle to come when I called them and to keep them friendly, but otherwise I never fed grain unless I was fattening freezer beef.

Cattle are pretty forgiving. Welcome to the club.
Good to know. There's another group that said I started my calf on grain since day one and if you don't start them on grain their digestive system isn't ever going to work correctly.

Of course they backed up what they said with pictures.

She's only a month old and we're not going to eat her.

So what age do you suggest she should start eating grain? She eats a little hay, and grazes a little and then she has her bottle twice a day.
 

Travlr

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Good to know. There's another group that said I started my calf on grain since day one and if you don't start them on grain their digestive system isn't ever going to work correctly.

Of course they backed up what they said with pictures.

She's only a month old and we're not going to eat her.

So what age do you suggest she should start eating grain? She eats a little hay, and grazes a little and then she has her bottle twice a day.
Cattle in fields... which is where cattle are generally kept... rarely see grain at all. Some people feed their cows grain, most don't. Some start calves on grain at some point, most don't. Usually calves don't see grain until they are in a feedlot.

So you are keeping the animal as a pet? Personally, if I wasn't going to eat it I would never feed it grain. Cattle don't normally need grain and in fact it can be detrimental. Of course I've seen people treat their cows like pets and feed them treats just like they feed their dogs treats until they waddle and die young... but that's up to you. Contrary to popular belief... food is not love.
 

pleasantpasturesbeef

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Welcome @gailbelanger !! I learn so much from these forums, and my family has had cattle a good portion of my life! But you're in TX and I'm in NY, so you have a better head start than your average NYer lol.😂 My brothers raised bottle calves for years.😁

I always fed bottle calves milk replacer until the big bag (50 lb.?) was empty, and sometimes if I wanted them to eat grain, I would soak the calf feed pellets in some of milk (toward the end of their bottle feeding days, like when the bag was getting pretty low), and they would usually gobble it up after their bottle was empty because they wanted more milk, and the pellets tasted like milk! Do you let your calf suck on your hand? I always do, and they really get attached to you, I find. If so, you can put the calf pellets in your hand and they'll suck them off and then crunch them up. They're more interested in sucking, tho, and will let a good portion dribble out onto the ground.

I agree with @Travlr that calves do not need grain. Even when they are not interested in grain, if you leave your calves tied to a tree in your yard where you can see them, they'll mow circular shapes around the tree, so you know they're eating grass! Since I'm a "grass-fed" operation now, and my calves live with their mommies who feed them real milk, I just let them transition on their own. When the mama cows come up to me for sweet feed, to keep them friendly and used to humans like Travlr mentioned, the calves eventually join in with the big cows eating grain off the ground. They're used to grazing off the ground anyhow, so they don't mind. 😀

Also, yes, food is not love...I've had cows associate that, and then if I have food, they'll knock me down for grain if I'm not careful lol 😂 My bottle-fed calves loved nothing more than a good long scratching session right under their head and neck, or letting them suck and suck and suck on my hand while they follow me around the yard. A good way to get them to learn to follow you, btw...😉

Enjoy your cows!🤩
 

coachg

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Welcome ! She’s a little young to eat grain yet but you can keep some sweet feed for her to learn . Products like calf manna and one called Tasty Ten in out area have molasses in/on them . If she’s getting a bottle a couple times a day she may be getting all she needs especially if she is small .. I wouldn’t worry about her not eating feed just yet but give her the option of feed free choice .
 
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gailbelanger

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No she's not a pet. Too big to bring in the house, lol.
The bottle fed heifer is a meat cow, 1/2 limousine, 1/4 shorthorn, 1/4 Jersey, her name is Coco.
The 3 month old is a milking heifer, Jersey/Holstein, BJ.

So they're our breeding pair.
Unfortunately the 2 of them are together and BJ loves to eat. So if there's a bucket with grain she thinks it belongs to her. I just want their digestive system to develop correctly and there are those who think a cow has to eat grain to make that happen.
 

Rafter S

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When you get ready to start her on feed, I've had good luck with putting a little feed in my hand, then let the calf suck on a couple of fingers and gradually dribble a little feed into it's mouth while it's doing that.
 

Travlr

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No she's not a pet. Too big to bring in the house, lol.
The bottle fed heifer is a meat cow, 1/2 limousine, 1/4 shorthorn, 1/4 Jersey, her name is Coco.
The 3 month old is a milking heifer, Jersey/Holstein, BJ.

So they're our breeding pair.
Unfortunately the 2 of them are together and BJ loves to eat. So if there's a bucket with grain she thinks it belongs to her. I just want their digestive system to develop correctly and there are those who think a cow has to eat grain to make that happen.
Again... think about that, "a cow has to eat grain to (digestive system to develop correctly)."

Grain is very sparse in a natural pasture. Seed heads of grasses that are naturally occurring and nothing more. Cattle didn't evolve in fields of present day wheat, barley, or oats... or corn. Grain can actually inhibit good digestive health in very young cattle.

The best thing you can do to assure good digestive health in a calf is make sure it gets plenty of colostrum for several days after birth, and then gets saliva transfer from an adult cow by being licked. Saliva transfer from older animals helps to grow the microbiome in the gut which is very important to ruminants.
 
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gailbelanger

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Welcome ! She’s a little young to eat grain yet but you can keep some sweet feed for her to learn . Products like calf manna and one called Tasty Ten in out area have molasses in/on them . If she’s getting a bottle a couple times a day she may be getting all she needs especially if she is small .. I wouldn’t worry about her not eating feed just yet but give her the option of feed free choice .
Thank you.
Again... think about that, "a cow has to eat grain to (digestive system to develop correctly)."

Grain is very sparse in a natural pasture. Seed heads of grasses that are naturally occurring and nothing more. Cattle didn't evolve in fields of present day wheat, barley, or oats... or corn. Grain can actually inhibit good digestive health in very young cattle.

The best thing you can do to assure good digestive health in a calf is make sure it gets plenty of colostrum for several days after birth, and then gets saliva transfer from an adult cow by being licked. Saliva transfer from older animals helps to grow the microbiome in the gut which is very important to ruminants.
Thank you.
 
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gailbelanger

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Welcome @gailbelanger !! I learn so much from these forums, and my family has had cattle a good portion of my life! But you're in TX and I'm in NY, so you have a better head start than your average NYer lol.😂 My brothers raised bottle calves for years.😁

I always fed bottle calves milk replacer until the big bag (50 lb.?) was empty, and sometimes if I wanted them to eat grain, I would soak the calf feed pellets in some of milk (toward the end of their bottle feeding days, like when the bag was getting pretty low), and they would usually gobble it up after their bottle was empty because they wanted more milk, and the pellets tasted like milk! Do you let your calf suck on your hand? I always do, and they really get attached to you, I find. If so, you can put the calf pellets in your hand and they'll suck them off and then crunch them up. They're more interested in sucking, tho, and will let a good portion dribble out onto the ground.

I agree with @Travlr that calves do not need grain. Even when they are not interested in grain, if you leave your calves tied to a tree in your yard where you can see them, they'll mow circular shapes around the tree, so you know they're eating grass! Since I'm a "grass-fed" operation now, and my calves live with their mommies who feed them real milk, I just let them transition on their own. When the mama cows come up to me for sweet feed, to keep them friendly and used to humans like Travlr mentioned, the calves eventually join in with the big cows eating grain off the ground. They're used to grazing off the ground anyhow, so they don't mind. 😀

Also, yes, food is not love...I've had cows associate that, and then if I have food, they'll knock me down for grain if I'm not careful lol 😂 My bottle-fed calves loved nothing more than a good long scratching session right under their head and neck, or letting them suck and suck and suck on my hand while they follow me around the yard. A good way to get them to learn to follow you, btw...😉

Enjoy your cows!🤩
I grew up on Long Island NY.
Coco my little one does suck on my fingers after she's had a bottle. I can relate to the almost being knocked over. The older one, 3.5 month old can't wait when I bring in her bucket of grain. I've had my very stepped on more then once. I'm hoping to learn how to avoid that.
I just changed BJs bucket to an over the rail pink bucket. Coco seems to like that bucket, so I gave her one and after they finish eating and drinking I put hay in both buckets so that she gets used to eating out of it.
I did try wetting the grain with a little millk and having her suck it off my hand I also tried it dry and she'll just spit it out.
I do the loving on them thing also. I get down on the ground when they're laying down and give them pets and hugs.
She is eating grass and hay, she just had no interest in grain.
I think she's young myself. 4.5 weeks. Just on the back of the milk bag says to start them on grain at 21 days.
Maybe some day soon.
But thanks I feel like I can stop worrying so much.
 

Cattlelow

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I just found this forum which is a great resource. I'm from Paris, TX.
I just "adopted" two young heifer calves. BJ a Jersey/Holstien is 3.5 months, weaned and Coco a half limousin 1/4 shorthorn, 1/4 jersey is 4 weeks bottle baby. And she's giving me a headache trying to figure out how to get her to eat some grain. So I will be asking lots of questions because I never raised cattle really before.

Also please forgive my terminology, I'm in the learning stage.
Welcome!
 

pleasantpasturesbeef

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I grew up on Long Island NY.
Coco my little one does suck on my fingers after she's had a bottle. I can relate to the almost being knocked over. The older one, 3.5 month old can't wait when I bring in her bucket of grain. I've had my very stepped on more then once. I'm hoping to learn how to avoid that.
I just changed BJs bucket to an over the rail pink bucket. Coco seems to like that bucket, so I gave her one and after they finish eating and drinking I put hay in both buckets so that she gets used to eating out of it.
I did try wetting the grain with a little millk and having her suck it off my hand I also tried it dry and she'll just spit it out.
I do the loving on them thing also. I get down on the ground when they're laying down and give them pets and hugs.
She is eating grass and hay, she just had no interest in grain.
I think she's young myself. 4.5 weeks. Just on the back of the milk bag says to start them on grain at 21 days.
Maybe some day soon.
But thanks I feel like I can stop worrying so much.


Awesome! You're doing yourself a great favor to handle them so much. I've found that bottle fed calves that get a lot of human handling and love (since they don't get that from their Mom) are so much healthier! That's great she's already eating grass and hay--brings your feed costs down a lot, which is super nice in this feed market lol👍😀
 

ksmit454

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I have a bottle calf that is now a short yearling (meaning she is just over a year old). I bottle fed her 3x a day and she had free choice access to grazing. They do not need grain at all to develop their digestive system. They are getting what’s intended to them - milk. When calves are born, they nurse mama, and begin to see mama and others grazing. They never get grain and develop just fine. As you watch her more and she gets older, you’ll see her graze more. Make sure she has access at that point to a good loose trace mineral. She’ll do fine with that. If you do not have grass for her to graze, give her a bit of hay to play with. Very quickly she’ll take to that.
 

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