Beef Calf

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Peanut

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Well, he’s not the calf I wanted but he’ll do. He’s an orphan, about 100lbs underweight, pitiful. It’ll take me a month to get him going in the right direction (healthwise). Tomorrow I’ll get him calf feed and something for a bottle if I can find it. He’s weaned but I want him following me like a pet. Easier to do with a bottle or treats.

Called a cousin down the road tonight. He’s got some really good Bahia, saw him baling it a couple weeks ago. He said he could spare a few rolls. It’s wrapped so I could leave it out in the weather but I think I’ll put it in the pole barn, plenty of room.

Next week I’ll go by the sawmill for a load of slabs. I need to build a couple of stalls. In years past this barn was for hay storage but needs change. It needs to function more like a traditional barn now.

It’s been a good day, I have beef on the hoof! Don’t have to freeze it or make jerky, just feed it. I had to get hay for the horse and donkey anyway, might as well grow some steaks while I’m at it.

He needs a name, was thinking - Pitibul

Calf 3 ab .JPG
 

Weedygarden

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This will be a fun and interesting project. He will be like a pet and will come running when he hears your voice. We never had bottle fed calves, but we had bottle fed lambs.

Cousin who raises beef, feeds them grass and grain and they finish in about 2 years. Due to daughter's celiac, grass fed beef gives her less problems digestion wise. Cousin said grass fed beef take more like 3 years to finish, for market. This is why we see so many feed lots. They help get cattle to market in less time. And it is also why grass fed are more expensive when you might think that grass fed could be less expensive beef.
 

Tirediron

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You probably know this but I will mention that bottle babys can be dangerous when they get older if they have the natural habit of bunting to bring down milk, Personally if you want him to be a pet just spend lots of time with him, and be careful of how much he associates you with his food, IE don't hand feed, i have dealt with cattle who are too humanized, and they often don't realize how much they out weigh you.
 

Peanut

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You probably know this but I will mention that bottle babys can be dangerous when they get older....
Normally I wouldn't consider it but there is nothing normal about this situation. I need to get his attention quickly and keep it on me for the next few weeks.

I got a mile of fencing that's mostly down. Right now I don't have a pen I'd trust to keep him in. I have to give him a big reason to come when I call. So, for the near term I want him looking at me for a bottle or some treat he wants.

Speaking of fences. He got out of the corral last night. He wasn't hard to find, knew where he'd be. I had to walk all the way down to the bottoms and walk him back to the bull pen.

While searching for this calf I found the calf I had wanted to buy, dead. Actually I found 2 dead calves this morning. About 10-12 days ago I sent word to that boy he had 4 calves that'd be dead by thanksgiving unless he did something.

Predictably, he did nothing. One had a belly full of acorns which will kill cattle. I saw my calf trying to stop for an acorn or two on the way back to the barn . Can't have that!

So, you're right, normally I wouldn't want a bottle baby on the place but my list of options are short.

Edit... Warning about acorns to folks new to cattle. The tanic acid in acorns eats away the lining of their esophagus then the first stomach then the rest of their intestines. They can no longer absorb nutrients from the food they eat. Eventually they die of starvation and kidney failure. See below...

Acorn Poisoning
 
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Tirediron

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i figured you would know this, but hopefully my little rant will keep someone from having a boo boo, Didn't know about Acorns, oaks don't grow here, I feel your pain with the nephew thing, had extended family totaly mess up a premium herd, but I was an inlaw and no one wanted to listen
 

Peanut

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Acorns are a tricky thing. Most cows might eat one here or there but no worries. As long as they have a full belly (grass or hay) most won’t bother with them.

Then there the few cows who love them! They are like crack addicts in a bad neighborhood, always looking for the next fix. Either you load them up and haul them to the livestock sale or pen them up 3 months each year. The wise choice is the sale barn for most producers. The moment they start eating acorns they start costing money and could easily die.

I had 3 acorn addicts a few years ago. One died before I figured out what was happening (she was bred). I penned up the other two, both bred. The next year I was watching the acorn crop. As soon as I saw those two parked under an oak tree I sold them.

Several years went by before it happened again. I fenced off a big hillside covered with old hardwood timber. There is a small pasture at the top but the grass was never great. And it was a royal pain to get a tractor and equipment up there (steep hill).

One year I decide to try going down another side of the hill on a tractor. About 1/3 of the way down I lost traction and slid a lot further than I was happy with! The dead leaf litter was thick and slippery. I’m to old to do that again!
 
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Tirediron

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I am about to ask another question, that you have prolly already concidered, electric fence? we had a crapload of plastic posts with the spike on the bottom, and made adapters for the reels the wire comes on for a rechargeable drill to roll it up, along with a solar power unit,
 

Peanut

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Way ahead of you there... I have 3 new electric fences planned to use over the winter. Picked up insulaters for wood posts yesterday. Have plenty for T-posts on hand.

I sort of feel like a one armed man in a juggling contest.

Today's agenda is getting that calf somewhere safe, the corral or pole barn. After that other work can continue at a reasonable pace instead of a mad dash.
 

Terri9630

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There are buckets with nipplex on them for feeding calves. That's what we use so the calves don't beat us to death with a bottle. The calves know we bring the food but haven't been "over friendly " since we switched.
 

Tirediron

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the problem with bucket with nipples is if the calfs neck isnt in nursing position the milk replacer goes through the rumen and not much of it is absorbed
 

Tirediron

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Same problem with bottles. Most people hold the bottle too high. It needs to be down low so the calf has to lower it's neck and crook his head upwards; same as in nature.
thank you for making ,my explanation make sense I doubt if nursing position is in the search engine,
 

Tirediron

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Oh my goodness, juvenile bovine nursing position, nope still sounds like a job description.
I'll go full hillbilly then , "the way the calf has to grab his mamas teat"
 

Peanut

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Well, got hay for the critters last week. Good fertilized Bahia, about 5500lbs of hay. I used to get 30+ rolls of hay in this barn. They were 4x5's. These rolls are 5x6 and weigh twice as much. Looks crowded with just 4 along that wall. I still need a couple mineral blocks but I have 400lbs calf starter.

Now to fill in the blanks... The calf got out of the corral the night of the 5th. It took me a week to get the s$%# stain back in the corral, wasted 2 full days on him. I didn't want him spooked or afraid of me so I had to be really gentle with him. It's far easier to drive a group of cows than a lone calf, especially if you're alone. Dad finally got him in the corral... riding his lawnmower with some feed in a bag. It still took dad 3 days.

He was in the main pastures but the problem was coyotes. That boy had 8 head of livestock die since the first of August. He only buried 3. In short he served up a weekly coyote smorgasbord. They were coming in by the dozens every night.

The horse or donkey would kill any coyote that got close but this little calf was helpless for a week. First thing every morning I checked the sky for buzzards. I was amazed he survived. But he is safe now!

As I wrote earlier in this thread this wasn't the calf I wanted. He has weak hips. His leg bones are good and his chest and shoulders are strong. But his hips are a bit narrow. He has a good disposition, calm though, too calm for his age. With the nutrients I'm going to give him he'll perk right up in a week.

I decided not to go with bottle feeding. He's already weaned, no point in undoing that. I got him to eat apple slices from my hand today. He loved that apple, so apples it is! In a week he'll be looking for apples every time he sees me.

I topped off his hay and gave him a few pounds of calf starter feed tonight. I mixed in some crushed volcanic rock. It's certified for the organic production of plants and animals, OMRI listed. Great stuff for young critters or any sick critter. It contians 80+ minerals and elements, all the goodies missing from our crop and pasture lands (nation wide).

Now it's back to fencing. I need to build a couple stalls in the barn and fence off a patch of fescue that's in front. It'll be his winter home, good roof so he can get out of the weather, dry hay and feed. I still need to haul a couple tanks to the creek and fill them. He'll be set for water til March.

Calf 17nov eat 4 aa.JPGCalf 17nov eat 1 aa.JPG
 
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LadyLocust

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Oh my goodness, juvenile bovine nursing position, nope still sounds like a job description.
I'll go full hillbilly then , "the way the calf has to grab his mamas teat"
Hey (as opposed to hay) you are a human with a face instead of a T. Good to see you :)
 

Peanut

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I finished winter shopping for the critters and calf. He has enough sweet feed/calf starter/minerals/salt/hay to last until grass puts up in April.

He has runny eyes, could indicate a problem. Stressed cattle or mineral deficient cattle will have runny looking eyes. He's been under stress since his momma died in august.

He doesn't have pink eye, infection or scratched eyes. His eyes are actually clear, just have a little discharge. I'll keep a close watch on him, he just started getting minerals Wednesday. He's no longer stressed out. He was calm and happy this afternoon.

I took him a apple and gave him a very close look today. He took a couple slices from my hand yesterday but was still a little shy. Today he took every slice from my hand. Afterwards he insisted on licking my fingers clean of apple juice. Calf slobber, nothing like it!

Calf apple 1 a.JPGCalf apple 2 a.JPGCalf apple 3 a.JPGCalf apple 4a .JPG
 
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Tirediron

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His eyes look bright in the pictures, and his coat is fair, good luck with this project.
 

Peanut

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Poop! Tells me just about anything I wish to know concerning a cow or a herd. I'm not talking a microscopic inspection here... just general observation, color and texture.

Once I started looking at the calf, poop is the first thing I wanted to see and monitor.

He was malnourished, 75-100lbs underweight. I was very concerned about acorns, how many was he eating? Worms? a definite possibility. I had serious doubts about him living. The poop was reflective of his general lack of nutrition. He wasn't eating a lot of acorns but a few more than I was comfortable with. He was getting very little graze, eating a lot of persimmons and muscadines.

Last Wednesday was the first day he had good nutrition. Hay wise he was eating about half a tub of loose hay that I pulled from a round bale. He almost ate a whole tub since last night, appetite increasing, good. Sometime last night the poop flood gates opened. Normal amounts for his age and size, color and texture were correct. I think I can save him now. He seems sound if stunted a bit.

I also still think he's a little wormy. I'll address that after another week. I want his metabolism to completely stabilize first. I want good baseline info before addressing specific issues.

Went and sat with him a couple times yesterday, he ate apple slices from my hand then licked my fingers clean. Today I completely ignored him when I went in the pen. I took my usual seat on an over turned feed trough but with my back turned to him.

In less than a minute he walked up and sniffed around my back. Then he moved to my side, more sniffing. Finally he walked around right up to my face, sniffed my nose and licked me!!! Yep, he's my buddy now. I just have to teach him a few responses, like coming when I call.
 
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Peanut

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Well, it's been a week since I posted. The calf is progressing, after 10 days of good nourishment he's gained about 20 pounds. At his age and size, 2lbs a day gain, is darned good! I'll take that for now. His tummy still hasn't completely adjusted to absorbing nutrients from grains and commercial feed. It'll take another week or so.

I still don't have him moved to his winter home in the pole barn. All materials needed are here finally, just need a few warm days. I have to throw up a quick partition across the pole barn. I'll use 6 of the oak boards and 2 wood posts. I'll put in a little gate/door on the end or in the middle so I can walk across the barn if needed.

He'll be out of the rain but not out of the cold. His stall in the barn also has tin on the side that faces south... to the sun, it'll hold a little heat. Half his stall has a gate across it. I'll keep open to a small patch of fescue grass, stays green late and starts very early. It's still green now, be December in a couple days.

I'll post a pic soon.
 
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