Saturday, April 23, 2011

Baby calf

On our farm this week we've been bottle feeding a baby calf who was rejected by her mother. She's a sweet little girl, but all bones. When my husband found her, she was curled up in the field the herd had just left. She stayed behind because she was too weak to go to the new field, poor thing. It's become my job to take her a (giant) bottle of milk-replacement formula twice a day. She's very sweet, and I think she's bonded to me. I take my two-year old Zeke out to the barn with me to feed her, and she's curious about him. She likes to smell his face, and he giggles in return. Anyway, I'm hoping she'll make it, she's doing much better than when we found her.

We've got a litter of 7 baby rabbits right now, and another rabbit who's due to kindle (give birth) tonight. There's not much as cute as baby rabbits! Our cat also had 4 kittens a few weeks ago, and they're starting to climb out of their box to explore. Add all the calves, and we've got quite a bit of new life blooming on the farm. Spring is wonderful!

My sister-in-law and I helped our husbands move the cows across the road this evening, it was a lot of fun! Our job was to stop any cars coming, so that they don't try to drive through the herd or bluff fence. It's quite invigorating to watch a 400-head herd stampede across the road! The boys (my son and nephew) loved watching.

I would love to post pictures, but due to some computer difficulties I won't be doing so today, sorry!

What's new on your farm (or garden, or backyard) this week? I'd love to hear!


writermomof4 said...

I'm curious why you'd feed a calf milk-replacer formula and not just milk from the mama cow, or another cow? Is it just that they're beef cattle and there's no system in place to milk them?

I've never posted here before, but enjoy reading the blog. My garden is still all indoors. We put off planting because of some late frosts, and right around the time the freezing stopped, the rain started (and hasn't let up). I wish we could send some to Texas so I could get my veggies in the ground!

practicingresurrection said...

We're having to bottle feed a kid here. The nanny had mastitis which deadened one side of her milk bag and the silly kid will only nurse that side. One side is bursting with milk and she refuses to nurse it! So she's on a bottle. Sigh.

We got the sweet corn planted just before the rain. English peas, Irish potatoes, onions, garlic, beets, radishes and swiss chard all coming in good. We'll be planting the summer stuff here in the next couple of weeks.

Lynne said...

I live in Arlington and unfortunately there's no adequate place for much of a garden, so nothing to report on there. However... I went foraging yesterday and, along with my 2 friends, collected 51 morels (which are much more delicious than Easter eggs ;-)

We also seem to have a fox living nearby and the poor thing hasn't got a single hair on her tail. I suspect she has the mange, and I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to help.

Cathy said...

I lived on a beef farm (Brahmans). The calves ran with their mamas until they were separated for weaning at about 5-6 months. I have been researching doing the same for dairy breeds. They say a dairy bull is less cantankerous when he's grown if he was raised by his mama instead of being bottle fed. When we get our dairy cows, I plan to leave the calves with their mamas during the day, pen them separately over night, and milk the morning milk for family use. I know of lots of dairy farms that are doing this. I also plan to leave the calves with their mamas 24/7 for the first week to make sure they get all the colostrum and get a good start on nursing. To me, this would be the easiest, most natural way to raise dairy cattle, and still get the milk the family needs.

Greenacresmama said...

Hi - we're fledgling homesteaders who have lots of projects going on this spring. I'm trying to start tomatoes from seed this year, and finally got spring veggies (peas, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, broccoli) in the ground a couple weeks ago.

Question: We're looking into getting a couple Angus calves we'll raise on grass for beef. We'll have to bottle feed them, but have been unable to find an antibiotic-free milk substitute. What do you use, and where did you find it? Thanks!

Heather Houlahan said...

Cathy, that's exactly how I manage our dairy goats. Pen kids at night, milk in the morning only, kids are with dams all day.

Not only is the labor of raising the kids practically nil, but if we have to go away for a day or so, or even an extended trip, we just leave the kids with their dams and no one has to milk at all. Much easier to get a farm-sitter if you don't have to worry about milking, and forget about finding someone who can both milk and bottle feed. We don't wean the kids until it's time to dry off the does -- actually, the does do it themselves when we stop milking them.

A friend does the same with his Ayreshire cow.

My first doe kidded last Saturday, and I'm going to do the first milking of the season today!

Desiree said...

I work on a sheep farm and we have just under 200 lambs on the ground now from the past 3 weeks. It is slowing down now and the small goat herd is kidding now. So we have been busy! And we are welcoming the slow down.

Kristin said...

writermomof4-- Thanks for your question :) We're only feeding the calf formula as a final effort to save her life. As she and her mother are beef cattle, we have no way to milk the mother (and I don't believe it would go well if we tried). We have no dairy cattle here, so the best we can do for now is formula. I wish there was a better way! But we'd rather have her be on formula for just a little while than have her die.

Greenacresmama- honestly we're just using formula from tractor supply. I don't know where you would find an antibiotic-free formula. Your best bet would probably be to ask the person from whom you plan to buy the calves, or wait to buy them until they are weaned. Sorry I can't help you more!

Cathy said...

Heather, I hadn't thought about the vacation aspect! That's a great idea! I had a hard time milking goats and bottle feeding kids for a family that went out of town for the weekend. I would have loved to have just fed the mamas and let the kids nurse!

Greenacresmama said...

Hi again - I know this is an older post but I have another question!!! We ended up getting two male Holstein calves that are almost 6 weeks old, and would like to avoid giving them calf starter (grain). Is this possible, and if so, when would they be weaned from milk replacer? They've been on rotating pasture for weeks now and are eating grass. BTW, we did find non-medicated milk replacer at Southern States. :)

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