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Feeding orphaned calves

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randiliana

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We had a big wreck here the other day. We have been grazing an Alfalfa/grass pasture for about the last month. It had been fairly dry, up until last week when we got almost 2 inches of rain. Of course, we weren't too worried about it since there had been no problems, and we never even gave it a thought. But with the rain, the Alfalfa "jumped" quite a bit, and left the slower growing grass behind. Basically overnight we lost 5 cows to bloat on the Alfalfa. It is quite humbling to have them literally drop at your feet and there is nothing you can do to save them!!

So, now we have 7 orphaned calves in the corral (2 from before). 2 of the calves are Jan., 4 are Mar, and 1 is late Apr. I plan to bottle feed the youngest, and 2 of the March calves are on the nurse cow (holstien) along with her own calf.

I am not worried at all about the 2 Jan calves, but what should I do for the others? There are 3 calves on the Holstein, 1 on a bottle and 2 on nothing. Right now we are giving them good quality grass hay, and free choice oats. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Randi
 

Jeannie

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I am very sorry you had to go through this. While learning from experience tends to be the most brutal, it is also the longest lasting. As someone who has learned from 'experience' before, you will never have to worry about this again. I don't mean to sound trite or uncaring, just trying to say there is always a little good that comes from the bad. In the event you are unable to find the Vigorcalf-R that FH is telling you about, it sounds like you are doing just fine for your calves. We raised 3 babies last year on good quality grass hay, COB (Corn, oats, and barley if you are not familiar with it), and mineral. I'm thinking the Vigorcalf probably has some things in it that the COB doesn't, so if you can find it that wold probably be the way to go. I wish you the best of luck
 

BRG

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Our neighbor weaned a bunch of calves very early a couple years ago when it was way to dry. I am not exactly sure but I think they were about 100 days old. He used a Purina product. I think it was the Impact growing ration. It ended up working very well. I would talk to your Purina rep and see what it is and if it would work for you. Sorry to hear about the cows. We had 3 calves and a bull get struck by lightning last week. The calves were all in one spot and took it all together while the bull was about 5 miles away. I guess this stuff happens when we finally get some good moisture. I will take the moisture any day. :)
 

Jeannie

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Purina also makes a calf feed called Startena. It's rolled corn, oats or barley, and pellets of milk replacer mixed with a little molasses. We have used it also, and it does real well. Just a thought!
 

randiliana

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Jeannie said:
I am very sorry you had to go through this. While learning from experience tends to be the most brutal, it is also the longest lasting. As someone who has learned from 'experience' before, you will never have to worry about this again. I don't mean to sound trite or uncaring, just trying to say there is always a little good that comes from the bad. In the event you are unable to find the Vigorcalf-R that FH is telling you about, it sounds like you are doing just fine for your calves. We raised 3 babies last year on good quality grass hay, COB (Corn, oats, and barley if you are not familiar with it), and mineral. I'm thinking the Vigorcalf probably has some things in it that the COB doesn't, so if you can find it that wold probably be the way to go. I wish you the best of luck

Thanks Jeannie,

Don't worry about hurting my feelings!! As the saying goes, "if you don't have them, you can't lose them"!! I certainly can understand that one. It is hard on you to lose them, but the only time that it really bothers me is if I think I could have done something to save them. (For example losing a calf at birth because you missed a check.) We did everything we could have to save these girls, and probably would have lost 15 more head if we hadn't been there.

Looks like the calves will just be getting freechoice oats, or perhaps some barley if we can get ahold of some, and good quality hay.

Thanks,
Randi
 

randiliana

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Thanks for the suggestions, our local Co-op carries a rolled calf ration, that I am going to look into. Unfortunately, it is "ranching on a budget " up here right now. The one good thing about it all, is that the cows are only worth about $250-$300 right now, while the calves (if they amount to anything) will be worth over $500.

I don't know what prices for feed are elsewhere, but a bag of milk replacer is $30 and the rolled calf ration is $9/bag. Starts to add up after a while!!

Randi
 
A

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I have used just rolled oats with orphans when it was all I had- mixed a little mollasses in it (or poured on) to get them to eat it better--If I have to buy it, I buy the rolled COB mainly because the cheap price of corn here in the states makes it cheaper--But the mollasses definitely gets them to eat it better and pick up quicker......
 

randiliana

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Kato said:
Have you shopped for another Holstein cow? Or even better, a jersey. Who knows, you may pick one up for less than the price of the milk replacer. :)

I really haven't even looked!! It took us 3 years to find the one we did!! I would have much rather had a Jersey, but we weren't about to drive all day and then pay WAY MORE than what we would for a beef cow. We got the holstein for $500 in Feb, and she was already AI'd back. The only nurse cows we could find locally, the guy wanted $1000 for 8-10 year old cows.

Randi
 

Maple Leaf Angus

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randiliana said:
Kato said:
Have you shopped for another Holstein cow? Or even better, a jersey. Who knows, you may pick one up for less than the price of the milk replacer. :)

I really haven't even looked!! It took us 3 years to find the one we did!! I would have much rather had a Jersey, but we weren't about to drive all day and then pay WAY MORE than what we would for a beef cow. We got the holstein for $500 in Feb, and she was already AI'd back. The only nurse cows we could find locally, the guy wanted $1000 for 8-10 year old cows.

Randi

Kato had a good suggestion, Randi. I don't know what the dairy situation is like in Sask., but here in Ontario young dairy cows are cheap - $300-400 just calved.
 

randiliana

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Kato had a good suggestion, Randi. I don't know what the dairy situation is like in Sask., but here in Ontario young dairy cows are cheap - $300-400 just calved.[/quote]


Oh yes, I agree, and would love to find one. But, out here, the only daries other than the hutterites are 2 hours away, and we know the owners. That is where we got the first cow, and it took us 3 years to get her from them. We watch the "Western Producer", but the closest animals we could find the guy wanted $1000 for. I don't even know where the nearest auction is that handles dairy cows.

Randi.
 

3words

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There are lots of cheap holstein cows in saskatchewan.I was talking to one guy,and he said he needed a holstein cow for calves,so he went to the hutterites and they told him if he wanted one of there older cows,to come get her and he could have her.I know the brother-in-law was so disqusted with the price he was getting,he just shot some of his cull cows.
 

Jeannie

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randiliana said:
Jeannie said:
I am very sorry you had to go through this. While learning from experience tends to be the most brutal, it is also the longest lasting. As someone who has learned from 'experience' before, you will never have to worry about this again. I don't mean to sound trite or uncaring, just trying to say there is always a little good that comes from the bad. In the event you are unable to find the Vigorcalf-R that FH is telling you about, it sounds like you are doing just fine for your calves. We raised 3 babies last year on good quality grass hay, COB (Corn, oats, and barley if you are not familiar with it), and mineral. I'm thinking the Vigorcalf probably has some things in it that the COB doesn't, so if you can find it that wold probably be the way to go. I wish you the best of luck

Thanks Jeannie,

Don't worry about hurting my feelings!! As the saying goes, "if you don't have them, you can't lose them"!! I certainly can understand that one. It is hard on you to lose them, but the only time that it really bothers me is if I think I could have done something to save them. (For example losing a calf at birth because you missed a check.) We did everything we could have to save these girls, and probably would have lost 15 more head if we hadn't been there.

Looks like the calves will just be getting freechoice oats, or perhaps some barley if we can get ahold of some, and good quality hay.

Thanks,
Randi

I know that saying! I also know the feeling that goes along with it. There is no feeling quite like the helplessness that accompanies doing everything you can, but still losing the calf or cow. All you can is your best. Unfortunately, sometimes your (mine, or anyone elses) best is not enough. Then, all you can do is learn from the experience, and so everything you can not to repeat it. Many years back we learned about moldy sweetclover in alfalfa hay and what it can do to a pregnant cow in the wrong trimester. Not pretty! Several years after that, we had a major blizzard that lasted a while and got a re-inforcement of what pregnant cows eating pine needles will do. Nothing we could do about it, but we got the lesson anyway. Try not to let the lessons get you down, and keep on keeping on!
 

George

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Do you have a couple of cows that milk well in your herd? I have had success if I pull just two or three cows and pen them in good pasture with up to twice the number of calves and then put a creep feeder in. With just a small number of cows and the extra calves they will form a family group and in just a few days all calves will be cross nursing and while the natural calves will not get the normal amount of milk with the creep feeder they will all do well. You might need to put them in about an acre or less at first to make sure they have the close contact! Good luck. With this method I have purchased small orphaned claves at the local sale barn and worked my way up to a 200% calf crop. As the cows get used to the extras you can move them out into the main herd and they will continue to cross feed. It will really make your neighbors look twice if you have 50 cows in a pasture and 100 calves - - - it takes a little work but so far it has made me money. I only do this when I can purchase extra calves cheap.
 

cowsense

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Randi......try starting the calves on a good quality calf starter ration and once they're going on it switch them over gradually to oats and a quality feed supplement. Anything beats bottle feeding or the hassle of a nurse cow!
 
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