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Calf won't eat solid food

Posted by wireweiners SW AR (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 18, 07 at 16:32

My 10 year old DD is raising a bottle calf. Blossom is close to 3 months old now and loves her bottle but isn't touching the grain and pellets we've been offering for about a month now. We've been giving her about 50/50 sweet feed and Calf Manna. She will eat it from my daughter's hand but won't eat it out of the feed pan. Is it too early for solid food? Should we try something different? Blossom could be larger but isn't really thin and appears to be growing. Told DD that baby calves learn to eat grain by watching their mamas so since she was Blossom's mama she was going to have to eat some grain in front of her to teach her how to eat. DD was not amused!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Calf won't eat solid food

At three months, she should be starting to ruminate. Try feeding her the grain before the bottle when she's hungry but not foccussed on milk. Add in a handfull of alfalfa or something alse with some stem to it. How much milk is she getting? At three months, she should be getting the milk as a supplement and not as the main source of feed. Cut her back slowly as soon as she accepts the grain and hay into her diet.

RE: Calf won't eat solid food

We always offered grain, hay and fresh water to our replacement heifers at two weeks of age. To get the calves used to it we would offer it by hand after giving the bottle but I'd also try to let them suck my fingers while they were down in the feed bucket to get them used to looking there for the grain. Depending upon how much milk replacer you're giving her she may not be hungry enough to have an interest in the feed right after the bottle and then when she is hungry enough she doesn't know enough about the grain to eat it. Cut her milk back by a fourth each week and offer her the feed. She'll get the hang of things.


RE: Calf won't eat solid food

We always had fresh calf-starter ration in front of the bottle calves from the very start - and after each feeding, or any time we happened to be passing by, we'd cram a handful of feed into their mouths.
By the time they're 4-6 weeks old, they should be eating at least a pound and a half of high-quality calf-starter ration per day, allowing you to stop feeding the bottle altogether, and gradually, but rather quickly, increase their grain feeding to 5# per day.
3 months is way too old to still be feeding that expensive milk replacer - I was shocked when I had to go purchase a bag this spring to feed a calf whose first-calf heifer mother refused him - $80!!! I doubt that I'll recoup the expense of the milk replacer and calf-starter when I sell him, 'cuz beef bottle calves just never seem to grow off very well compared to Holsteins. He's the typical little stunted, pot-bellied beef bottle calf.

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