baby holstein calves

growernut(4/5 NEBR)February 28, 2008

need some thoughts here. i got two baby holstein calves. both were a day old when i got them. both are doing well, about a week old now, but one was a twin and his eyes seem to stick out farther then the other ones does. he eats fine, runs around fine, just when i give him his bottle, he looks funny since his eyes stick out. does his head just have to catch up in size with his eyes or what?



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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Since you say he, I assume this is a bull or steer? If you are planning to eat them, and they both are growing fine, I wouldn't worry about it. If you plant to use them as oxen, etc., or keep them long term, I still might not worry, unless the eyes are REALLY bulging. Odd sized eyes can happen, and while I wouldn't necessarily breed from such an animal, if it's not breeding stock, and it's not a dangerous bulge that might lead to injury, I would ignore it. If they are supposed to be for a 4-H or other showing project, then that might be a problem, as in not meeting breed/showing standards. And, it may minimize itself as he grows bigger, esp. if he was a twin. Someone with more cattle experience may well give different advice, also.

Can you ask someone locally to come have a look, or can you post photos?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 12:22PM
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Congrats on both calves doing well. Raising day old calves isn't an easy thing to do.
I wonder if he could be a dwarf?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 1:58PM
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growernut(4/5 NEBR)

would a dwarfs eye stick out more then a non dwarft would?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 2:17PM
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dwarfism is rare in Holsteins. There would be other dwarf traits as well.. I wouldnt be concerned. If things dont work out in the long run, it will still be good eatin at any stage.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 2:52PM
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kydaylilylady(z6 KY)

I really wouldn't worry about it. We used to occasionally get a Jersey that was bug eyed and it never seemed to affect their sight in any way.


    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 8:06AM
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Hi Gary,
I didn't mean to worry you...was just wondering if it was a possibility.
The dwarf cows and mini horses I have seen had large heads and their eyes buldged out some. That's what made me wonder if yours was a dwarf. I think if he was a dwarf that you would see more signs of dwarfism than just the big eyes.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 4:17PM
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growernut(4/5 NEBR)

thanks all for the thoughts. my vet could not come up with anything to worry about either, unless it gets worse or he stops eating or something. yes these were two little bull calves i got, one was a twin the other a premie. want to raise them for the meat but thought if the eye bulging thing was something to be worried about i'd work on that now. the premie was 3 hours old when i got him. tubed him with colostrum and for the next few days with milk. he weighed 55 lbs. he was a week old last tuesday and now tips the scale at 70 lbs. so he's doing well. i have not had baby bottle calves for years. i remember now how much work it was, the sore fingers from getting sucked on, etc. right now they are in my garage at home (in town) and wifey's van sets outside.....something tells me this will be the last time i get calves!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 5:00PM
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Every calf I started I swore it would be the last! A friend used to start 120 at a time!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 7:48PM
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I can't imagine starting anything close to 120. I have started quite a few over the years, but never more than 4 at a time.
Colostrum is the key to healthy calves. The dairy I get mine from keeps them a day or two and starts them on colostrum and sends me home with a bucket of it too.
I have been getting the itch to pick up a couple this spring and have really been fighting it. The cost of milk replacer will help in not doing it...I
Gary it sounds like you are doing a great job! Premies and twins can be a challenge.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 12:03AM
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Getting our first four calves next week from a local dairy. They will get colostrum before we pick up. We have individual pens ready until they are weened and graduate to pasture. My Aunt used to raise calves years ago and I always enjoyed helping out. Going solo now so just wondering if anyone has any tips for a rookie. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 3:21PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

Keep your bottle and buckets very clean. Scrubbed with hot water and soap after every use. Let the bottle nipple air dry after washing to prevent rubber deterioration.

We are feeding a calf right now, 30 days old. I paid the extra $1 for medicated milk replacer, going for the extra protection. They are REALLY fragile at this age. Get the navel dried up to prevent having an infection point of entry into the body. We clean stalls daily. There is sawdust on the bottom, deep straw above for hiding in. They really need straw, but it is not very absorbative so the sawdust or shavings base collects the liquids, no puddles to lay in.

I made up a "calf cover" out of a piece of fleece material for cold nights. It goes on when temps drop below 20F. Just a neck hole, small strap girth and a couple shoelaces to tie around each hind leg at the back corner. Holds his heat in. Calves do well in cold, but I thought he needed a bit of help when temps dropped WAY down there. He is in a solid wall stall, but the top gets lots of air movement, just no drafts on him.

If you have a choice of calves when getting them, look at those who stand and come over to see you, like walking around. Playful if possible. You WANT them to suck your fingers strongly, not just hold on to finger. These calves will drink the bottle well, have enough energy to survive. Those calves who stay laying about, need experienced handling to survive without the Vet expenses if you haul them in.

Calves dehydrate FAST, so make sure they get plenty to drink. Our Vet advised 3 calf bottles of milk replacer spaced over the course of the day, so 6 hours apart. We also give a full warm water bottle in between milk. So our calf is getting water or milk replacer every 3 hours. First milk replacer at 6A, water at 9A, milk at 12P, and so on. If they don't drink well, quit early, you need to fix the problem RIGHT NOW, because it only gets worse fast.

We mix all the milk replacer with warmer water, dissolves faster, calves LIKE warm milk, warms them from the insde to save his energy for playing, not just surviving the cold.

Learning with last year's calf, they just NEED a lot of liquid often. Dairy folks will have calves on a bucket system within a day or two, but we are not as skilled as they are! Our calves do 4-H, so having him willing to drink a bottle of water later, was helpful at the hot Fair. He would get too distracted to drink from his bucket or a tub, so a bottle or two of water fixed my worries.

After a little bit, you change calf over to a bucket of milk, get him sucking it up. Usually a finger to suck, then leading his muzzle down into the milk bucket and he will catch on pretty quick so you get your finger back. At that time I will hang a water bucket and keep adding warm water each feeding, and FINALLY the calf will start drinking water too. At about 40 days I will push a couple dairy alfalfa pellets in his mouth, soften in his milk, to get his stomach going. Try to get him eating pellets in his stall. Calves are curious, busy, so they do get to licking up the pellets. Start with tiny amounts, couple tablespoons for a while, to let his stomach develop the digestive bacteria needed for green things. So by a couple months old, he is eating some solids, you can start feeding a little good hay for nibbles. Mine usually have paddock play if dry out, so they can nibble grass sprouts too.

Good luck with the calves. Yeah, extra work with all the feedings, but we didn't lose any, always gaining. One family complained about losing 3 of 5 calves they bought, and the two who lived were very small, thin, sad-looking at the Fair. More time needed than they wanted to put into them, unto the point of losing them. Their other animals, horses, looked excellent, well fed.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 10:50AM
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I am interested in procuring some Holstein calves. I live in central Texas--all of dairies in this area are gone.

Would anyone know where I could get some?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 8:23PM
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