What can you tell me about Bottle Calves?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by denasfarm, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. denasfarm

    denasfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sweet Home Alabama!!
    I am going to go look at a couple of Dairy calves tomorrow.
    My goal is to have a couple of milkers for personal use and excess for other animals.
    My understanding is it is better to buy babies so they are more trustworthy as adults.
    I have also read this is a horrible time of year for babies due to diseases.
    My son looked at the calves today and said a couple of them (They had 50 or more) were coughing.
    Is this like Parvo in dogs? Kennel Cough? contagious? are the other calves OK?
    What age is best they have 2 weeks up to 8 week...of course the price goes up with age...
    Ideas? Suggestions?
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Are these calves on a dairy farm or are they calves a buyer has bought up and is reselling? It's rare (at least in my area) for dairy calves to be sold unless they're bull calves. Most dairymen around don't sell their heifer calves as bottle babies.

    Any time of year can be a bad time for bottle calves if you don't get them directly from the farm where they were born.
  3. denasfarm

    denasfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sweet Home Alabama!!
    My son is not sure and I wont look until tomorrow. He said they guy had Adults and that these stayed with mom for a week. But he doesnt know if they were born there. I will add that to my questions.

    Some are Pure Holstien, some are 1/2 Holstien and 1/2 Jersey he showed my son which ones would make good milkers and what wouldnt. Would it be best to get PURE Calves or would crosses be OK?

    Several big Dairies and lots of Amish farms here so I would think they are local raised.
  4. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    It's just odd for them to be selling heifer calves......or at least around here it would be.

    A cross between two dairy breeds would be fine. A cross between a beef breed and a dairy breed will knock your milk production down some but you can still milk her.
  5. denasfarm

    denasfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sweet Home Alabama!!
    I texted a couple of ladies I work with and 3 of the four said it was normal. One said make sure they are healthy.
    That Dairies will sell anything they have excess of.
  6. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I guess they do it differently in different areas.....here the dairy guys keep their heifers and grow them out until they decide whether they're going to add them to the herd or not. Good luck picking out what you want.
  7. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2008
    Young jerseys are not recommended for beginners. They can die easily because there really isn't much reserve in them. If you are going for value of money, you could try a 6 month old. That is still young enough to bond if you work with her and you have them eating well by that point. I would think you would spend the amount a 6 month old would cost and more if you were to buy a newborn and feed it properly. The first 6 months are the most expensive to feed a young calf. ( Same as human babies-- those first months are costly.)
    Jersey/Holstein or other crosses would likely be cheaper than purebreds. Is your son considering 4H or FFA at any point? If so, stick with a registered purebred of the best quality you can afford.
    Are you hand milking or machine? If hand, ask to see the mother and check how long her teats are. Cows these days are bred for short teats and you really don't want to hand milk those. Length varies by cow and is somewhat inheritable. Also ask how much mom produces. Price of the calf is often proportionate to the quality of the dam.
    If you decide on a newborn, make sure it has had colostrum. I don't know of any farmers ( even Amish) who allow the calves on the cow after the first nursing or so. A week old calf can be boisterous enough to do serious damage to a full udder. But the calf should ideally have 3 days of colostrum from mom by bottle or bucket.
    If you were experienced, I'd say grab a calf as soon as it's dry to isolate it from any farm diseases ( and take colostrum with you!) but since you are inexperienced with these babies ( and they ARE babies) I'd say get the oldest you can afford.
    If you work at it, you can tame down older ones easily. It just takes patience and kindness and working with them. You can't put even a young one in a pasture and let it run and expect it to be tame as an adult. The older ones allow you to better see what you are going to get, too.
  8. arabianequine

    arabianequine Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 4, 2010
    Get you a gallon jug of keo-petate at the feed store. It is like $10.

    Scour halt.

    We did not vaccinate our calves but that is up to you some do some don't. We ended up eating ours and did not want meds given anymore then necessary.
  9. learycow

    learycow Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 1, 2011
    Southern Maine
    When it comes to calves, they should be good to go as long as they've had their colostrum (the first milk right after the mother calves). Calves are born with no immunity, so they NEED the mother's colostrum in order to be healthy. Make sure you ask to see if they have had it. If not, the calves are much more likely to get sick, especially once they leave the farm and get stressed out with re-homing.

    Also, when you are checking them out, pick out the ones that look more lively. You want calves that are going to be good eaters, they tend to stay the healthiest. And be sure to check their manure. If it is loose or runny, it could mean the start of scours or another disease. Some of these are easy to treat, others can be deadly. I good healthy calf will have squishy manure, but it won't be like water running from a hose.

    You do NOT want the coughing calves! Like I said, be sure to ask if they've had their colostrum, and try to pick out the healthiest calves you see. It would be best to make sure you do your research before-hand, especially if you've ever raised calves before. They are very simple to raise, but if you don't know anything about them then it's very easy for something to go wrong.

    If I were going to pick out calves to buy, I wouldn't buy anything younger than 3 weeks old. My reasoning for this is because the first 3 weeks they are their weakest. They are just getting used to their environment, and they are very fragile. If you buy calves that are at least 3-4 weeks old, then you are a little closer to the safe zone. It means they've had a chance to get used to eating out of a bottle/pail (mine eat out of a pail starting around 1-1/2 weeks). It is also better for them at that age, to move them to a new place. Moving a cow stress them out. They like everything to always be the same, every day. They do adjust very well, but during that short stress-time it makes their bodies more susceptible to disease. I'm not saying they will get sick, they are generally fine, but there is always that chance. The older the calf is, the easier she'll adjust to her new surroundings and the moving process.

    As for jersey holstein crosses, they are great! I have mostly holsteins but a few jersey crosses as well. They are excellent cows to have, but as stated before, make sure you look at the mothers. They may look great as calves, but the mother tells all when you talk about how she will look once she gives milk!

    If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me. I wish you luck and take your time picking those calves out! And the more questions you as about them and their mothers, the better informed you will be.
  10. denasfarm

    denasfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sweet Home Alabama!!
    Thanks for helping [​IMG] I knew I could get info here!
    My son is 20 so its not for 4H, although I wish he was a little kid again. I miss those years.
    We are just trying to go back to basics and grow as much of our own product as we can including Dairy.
    Probably start out hand milking, may go to something else later if it becomes overwhelming for a beginner. [​IMG]
    Our neighbors bought two - 2 week old boys from this same man. He was going to go back and get several more today too.
    He said one of his calves was "getting" sick so I may watch his before I jump and get any from this guy.
    There are several Dairies locally so I may check out others before getting anything from this guy.
    And I think we have decided an older baby would be better maybe 4 months old anyway.
    I was told last night that you just about have to starve them to get them to live...I dont know if I like the idea of starving one...
    I get upset if something happens to a chicken. I can only imagine the heartache of losing a baby calf.

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