PDA

View Full Version : Raising bobby calves


cranky
2nd August 2009, 08:02 PM
Hi all, we are new to lsb living and are looking at getting 4, 4 day old bobby calves to raise for our own use, we have 9 acres of hill and flat land. we also have some alpacas and llamas. we are wondering what is involved and what the costs would be for the milk and anything else we would need. any advice would be great.

reggit
2nd August 2009, 08:04 PM
Hi cranky, and welcome to the site [:D] hopefully someone will be along soon who can provide a bit of info and advice.

LongRidge
2nd August 2009, 08:27 PM
Are you sure that you will be able to kill and eat a calf that you have bottle-fed twice daily for 6 weeks, and once daily for 6 more weeks?
You will need $200 and upwards to raise a calf to weaning, by which time you will be able to sell it for $150 to $200.

reggit
2nd August 2009, 08:29 PM
Longridge, it seems to depend where in the country you are and what the calves breed or crossbreed is. Weaner fresian x hereford crosses up here sell for $350 each [;)]

Kate
2nd August 2009, 08:33 PM
Hi Cranky and welcome to lsb [:D]

We've raised cattle from 4 days old and if you want very friendly cattle it's the way to do it. We raised Jo from 4 days and she's now 8 and our herd leader and very tame. If you look at the lsb header at the top of the page, that's Jo with my husband on the right [:I] Jo has bred us a number of excellent calves.

We were never going to eat any of our hand-reared animals so got very attached to them.

Offer them hay immediately, they'll nibble at it and it will help their rumens to develop. A feed like Moozlie is ideal when they're a little older. They love it and it's made for calves so has all the nutrients they need.

I can't think of anything to add but if you need to know more then just ask.

Cheers
Kate

FraSla
2nd August 2009, 09:04 PM
Hey Cranky,
If you've got a dairy farm nearby you could go to the and work out a price for any excess calf, although then you have to have storage or be able to get fresh stuff every 2 or 3 days. Or you could use milk powder. Now I'm not sure of this years price, it tends to fluctuate a wee bit but 3 years ago it was $99 for a 25kg bag. If you choose milk powder you'll need a large bucket to mix it in - a 20 litre would be easier even though you'll only be mixing 8 litres just for spill factor, and I recommend getting a whisk to mix it with (farm shops sell big ones). I'm not sure exactly, depending on how long you feed them for but for 4 calves you might use 2 or 3 bags of powder.

For the first month should feed them twice a day, 2 litres each feed, increasing to 3 then 4 litres. You could bottle feed them, although you'll need to be able to seperate them into pairs for each feed or have another person to help each time. The easier option would be to get a feeder from CRT or one of those ones, milk bar make 5 tit ones and at four days old they will be trained to go on them. If you want them to be friendly and don't intend to have them killed give them lots of cuddles while they are feeding till they get used to you, otherwise don't touch them much.

They need to have shelter, a wee shed of some sort will do, put straw on the floor if you can, or bark chips or something similar. To test it out sit down in the back of it and if your warm it'll be fine. They need to have fresh water everyday and as Kate said above hay to chew to get their rumen started. Use meadow hay or straw never give them lucerne because it is too tough on their gut and their won't thrive.

Don't be disheartened by what others have said, raising calves is a wonderful experience and if you play your cards right can be profitable. Although I would recommend raising them through to two year olds before selling them and/or you wouldn't want to eat them till then anyway.

Good luck, let us know how you get on. Oh and welcome!![:)]

sod
2nd August 2009, 09:38 PM
Hi Cranky if you have time calves are cheap at the moment, get yours from a farm not sale if you can, check they have had colostom get them to stand up move, if you can go just before they are fed pick the keen/bellowing:D ones with clean bums. You should get about $200 more than you payed for them as weaners, we work on this most years here they are $300 to$350 . so then work out your costs, we rear ours on nurse cows so I cant help with costs sorry. If you like calves and are keen you canhave fun don't name them:)or call then roast beef HAHA

reggit
2nd August 2009, 09:40 PM
If you like calves and are keen you canhave fun don't name them:)or call then roast beef HAHA

Or Kelvin(ator)

Or Stewie

Or Herbie

Or...? [}:)]

sod
2nd August 2009, 10:16 PM
Tigger thats it :D:D

wiredkiwi
3rd August 2009, 12:54 AM
Calf raising is a good thing for a LSB - I spent a bunch of time growing up raising dairy replacements and it's really rewarding, although you need to be aware of some of the requirements - mainly time, facilities and more facilities! Even with only 4 calves, the following still applies!

Calf raising isn't for me now as I like to sleep in whenever I can! Plus there are days I'm not at home and have to get others to feed my 'critters' - you pretty much have to be onsite for most of your calves first 3 months so it can be a tie.

I'm not set up for calves either, as they need really good indoor shelter (not big, but totally wweatherproof), plus you would probably find you need an isolation shelter (one nasty bug can take take down your whole mob). Good pens are essential for castrating and tagging - you have to have a primary and secondary ear tag in each beast to sell cattle. My neighbour tends to wait too long to do her calves and I can tell you it's a nightmare trying to tag and castrate the blighters even in good yards - they can be pretty damn strong! So shelters and pens/yards can set you back a bit if you don't already have them.

I think the final thing (and most important for a successful operation) is cleanliness - you don't have to have brand new facilities with acres of concrete, but immaculately clean, dry, draft-free buildings, deep straw beds, and good gravel areas where you will be working are essential! Easy access to copious amounts of boiling water for cleaning teats and buckets, airtight drums for storing milk powder and Moozli, and some way of lugging lots of heavy containers of milk & feed around (eg motorbike & trailer) are ideal.

Since I knew what went into raising really healthy calves before I bought my LSB, I took an easier route (easier for me) to just run a small fattening operation. I buy in weanlings and raise through to killing weights (24 - 30 months). It's fairly simple - turf them into a paddock (tagged and castrated) and wave a bit of pour-on at them once or twice. The only downside is they eat*huge* amounts of grass! However be aware that to fatten cattle, for the times you need to drench and handle them you need far more industrial strength yards and a proper cattle trailer or to call in a stock truck to get them off the property - it can sometimes be better to get rid of them as weanlings at the sales and be able to use smaller, cheaper yards and standard trailer crates.

Calves are a heck of a cute, and raising them is pretty rewarding. Good luck with it, do let us know how you get on!

cowvet
3rd August 2009, 01:36 AM
I think the MOST important thing is to get the right calves. It is essential that they have had a good couple of litres of colostrum within 12 hours or birth....get that bit right and there are 101 ways to raise a calf ;-)

Seaside
3rd August 2009, 08:50 AM
I have never raised calves - too busy and too lazy, so we buy them as weaners or yearlings. However, I have fed my neighbour's calves for a week while they were away.

They had theirs in an open-sided barn, gated, for several months. They also have a calf crate that they used for a new arrival that was getting bullied by the slightly older calves and who wasn't doing well healthwise.

You need a calfatiere (sp?) for feeding, which is like a plastic paddling pool (except semi circle) with teats. This has to be washed out after every feed.

You need to feed milk twice a day, I think it's for 3 months? Or perhaps they go to once a day when older. Someone else will know. Also introducing calf pellets at a certain age.

If they are not naturally polled (bred not to grow horns), you will need to get their horn buds cauterised or cut off. I believe this has to be done by a vet.

Finally, be prepared to get every body part sucked and drooled on at feeding time [:D]

hilldweller
3rd August 2009, 09:14 AM
Bobby calves are cute :) If you're looking into different feeding regimes, just be aware that the ones that advocate early introduction of meal/grain products etc to stimulate rumen development and allow very early weaning off milk at just a few weeks of age are quite a departure from natural cow-rearing (weaning at say 6-10 months). Those regimes are therefore pushing the limits of what a calf can cope with and the calf is unlikely to do as well and there is more risk of problems. I'm not saying don't go down that track, but if you do, just be aware that you need to be very vigilant about standards of care and on the look-out for early signs that a calf is not doing as well as it should. Whatever you do, buy bright healthy calves with dry navels that have had colostrum. Don't be tempted to take pity on a sickie unless you know what you're up against. If possible, try to buy direct from a farm, not via sales - gives you access to better information and means much less stress and risk of exposure to disease for the calf.

Sue
3rd August 2009, 09:25 AM
Also pick what breed or cross carefully.
Preferably pick calves which have been sired by beef bulls, Angus Hereford etc.
Bull calves will grow best but need to be steered at an early age, beware of straight jersey or freisians of either sex as they will not be as easy to sell or fatten.

edster951
3rd August 2009, 09:37 AM
For get what others have said about not naming them.

Give them a name, and from day one tell yourself and your family they are for the freezer, if that is what you want them for.

We name ours, and its easier to say "Diasy has scours today" Or " Nigel is doing well" then there is no identity crises.

Killing ours was never an issue when named.

Then as others have said, feed 2 litres twice a day, check with vet for vaccinations etc..

You'll love them, they are so much fun.

Ronney
3rd August 2009, 10:20 AM
As Cowvet says, there are 101 ways to rear calves and you are already getting a lot of confusing information.

This site has a very good resource section and I suggest you go here:
http://www.lifestyleblock.co.nz/index.php/cattle/calves-and-calving.html

and once you have read that, come back and ask any questions or clarify anything that isn't clear.

Once you've got it right, calf rearing is very rewarding[:)]

Cheers,
Ronnie

bev
3rd August 2009, 10:48 AM
There is going to be alot of advice given about rearing them.
If you are planning on rearing for meat, definately get a beefy cross. A hereford X will always bring good money no matter what time of year it is. A angus X will bring good money when they are 18month old or older, Heifers generally 'fatten' earlier than steers, but steers bring in better money, so depends on what/when you want to sell. Heifers also come into season, so can bruise each other stupid if close to killing, not to mention any nearby bulls!! (as you often read on here)
If you want a house cow, a beefy cross will be ok too, they dont make as much as a straight Dairy, but theres only so much milk you need, and i find that you have less metabolic problems with them.

sod
3rd August 2009, 12:14 PM
Best crosses we've ever had for growth and ease to do were wait for it...............Murray Grey cross black n white but seem hard to find :(

LongRidge
3rd August 2009, 01:32 PM
We've done it 3 times. The first year was profitable but the other 2 were huge losses.
Remember that you cannot get straight beef bobbies. Try to get calves that have absolutely no Jersey in them unless you want a housecow. They grow slower so you've got to feed them through more winters to get them to the same size as a Friesian X, they have yellower fat, and have a different flavour that some people do not like.

Cinsara
3rd August 2009, 02:02 PM
I prefer to buy them after someone else has done all the hard work and I work full time. Black white face steers will cost $300+ as weaners and will sell for $700+ after less than a year. You can also choose ones that have been ringed already (or not if you want bulls) and they will have been ear tagged as well - either from your local farmer or the sales. One year I bought 3 Charolais (who came off mum that morning I found out later [:0] which was obvious thinking back but I didn't realise at the time being a city kid) for $280 which was an absolute bargain and they sold for $780 a year later. No matter how wild a youngster is when it arrives it calms down to a 'follow you everywhere lamb' after it figures out that you're the food lady/gent. I sell as store cos I can't bear to finish [:(] I have 10 acres and back in the day when I only had 2 horses I grew 13 weaners up to $700 store steers - good grass in my area though...ex dairy farm.

max2
3rd August 2009, 03:43 PM
We have 2 babies at the moment and I went to the sales today with a view to buy another in.

Next week I will be on the lookout for another 2 as I also have 2 jerseys, 1 of which (daisy) gave birth on the 22nd.

I am currently hand milking her until my single milking plant arrives on Wednesday, and have a frozen supply of colstrum

Duncan is a pure jersey bull calf and he will be kept intact as a breeding bull for re-sale in 12 months or so time. Our stock agent advised us of this, and a couple of former dairy farmers also confirmed the info was correct, that Duncan would be worthless if we ring him now.

Freddie is a white faced (currently) bull calf, both born on the 22nd who i bought just over a week ago for $40. Freddie's manhood will be getting seen to shortly.

We bottle feed Freddie of a morning (2 bottles something to buy or at least the red teats to fit on a used but clean bottle) and he lives in a calf pen that SOH built on a bed of straw (11.60 per bale - 1 bale) of a night time.

when the milking plant turns up, Duncan will be joining Freddie.

both are nibbling at hay we feed out of a night time after we have put Freddie on Daisy in the run. (she won't take him and we feel we probably received Freddie a day or so too late to mother on successfully).

We were advised to take Duncan off after 4 days (when the colustrom runs out) but I enjoy seeing Daisy with her calf.

We are going to eat Freddie when old enough. I too would be worried about how E would have reacted in time, however she once had a favourite lamb and when it grew out of its cutness stage, then she wasn't bothered.
Freddie steps on her foot from time to time now and he is getting a bit of a lad in his running, so it won't be long and her interest in the baby will pass.

Better to know what you are eating if you have the choice. I would rather see Freddie dropped in our paddock than send him to the sales or works. They drive the trailers past my office window each week and they all look so sad as they sway about....

but that end of it is a personal choice after all.

Cinsara
3rd August 2009, 03:52 PM
I would rather see Freddie dropped in our paddock than send him to the sales or works.

In an ideal world home kill is the best option for sure.

ronnie
3rd August 2009, 03:56 PM
I agree that the white faced should be ringed shortly. I also agree the jersey bull would be worthless if ringed, however, don't go holding your breath thinking you might make serious money off him as a yearling.
It can be quite hit and miss and only having one, puts you at a disadvantage.
The growers who grow jersey bulls to use as service bulls, are specialised units who have most, if not all, of the market sewn up.
You may be lucky enough to find a dairy farmer wanting a yearling bull, but most of them buy them in as a 2 year old, by which time the bull is showing all the traits that jersey bulls have, and are well known for.
Do not keep him any longer than absolutely necessary, as they can be exeptionally nasty creatures.

Also, mothering on calves can be a very frustrating excercise. Some cows will acept everyones babies, others want their own and nothing else.

Good luck and enjoy your babies while they are little - they can be a real handful as they grow.

Sue
3rd August 2009, 03:58 PM
Swaggie I'm sure people have said it to you already-but be very caustious of entire Jersey bulls, especially those that are reared in close proximity to humans! For some reason their temperamnet is vastly different to the female of the species!

All young bulls turn from being placid young lads to rumbunctious teenagers somewhere after 8 months, or whenever the testosterone gets flowing! I love my bull mob, now just turning 1 year old, they are placid and only interested in their tummies, but I know in another couple of months they will be humping each other, fighting in the yards and generally just ready to work-I can't wait to see them off on the truck to their new destinations!

Just make sure Duncan is confined away from any females from 6 months onwards (Jerseys mature young!) and keep a watchful eye on him whenever you are in the same paddock-bulls without fear and respect of humans can be a danger, especially Jerseys!

TKFARMER
3rd August 2009, 04:48 PM
Hi cranky, go to www.nrm.co.nz and click on 2009 calf rearing guide in the left hand column

tkf.

max2
3rd August 2009, 05:23 PM
Swaggie I'm sure people have said it to you already-but be very caustious of entire Jersey bulls, especially those that are reared in close proximity to humans! For some reason their temperamnet is vastly different to the female of the species!

All young bulls turn from being placid young lads to rumbunctious teenagers somewhere after 8 months, or whenever the testosterone gets flowing! I love my bull mob, now just turning 1 year old, they are placid and only interested in their tummies, but I know in another couple of months they will be humping each other, fighting in the yards and generally just ready to work-I can't wait to see them off on the truck to their new destinations!

Just make sure Duncan is confined away from any females from 6 months onwards (Jerseys mature young!) and keep a watchful eye on him whenever you are in the same paddock-bulls without fear and respect of humans can be a danger, especially Jerseys!

many thanks Sue & Ronnie for your words. We have a bull paddock so for us its not a worry, but for someone without separate paddocks it is and i failed to point that out.

I also failed to point out we have 16 immediate acres that we are grazing ours across, both babies are drinking from the trough as well as eating a bit of grass and hay. Generally they like the hay to roll and fight with though.:rolleyes:
I do have a question to pose, and I hope that its ok to pose it here on th back of cranky's post, it might be something they are considering as well as a thought, as I am.
anyhow the question is, as our jerseys babies are coming from good AI stock, and the agent knows their origins, he told me about another neighbour buying in from the same source as where ours came from. That neighbour is raising jersey bull calves also for the expected turnover (seperately from his dairy business). Apparently he has been doing it for a couple of years, buying them in at about $60 per head, but just started with my source.

Is this an idea way to earn income, or would you all stay with raising meat bred babies instead? I received the idea that the AI jersey bulls would achieve a better return.

max2
3rd August 2009, 05:25 PM
Sorry cranky to ride on the back of your post, but its difficult to know whether to start off another thread on bobby calves or just go with the thought flow on yours.... I found that with my cheese interests too, I sometimes wonder if its worth having sep. forums for each interest sometimes.....:o

anyhow this will give you a laugh.... I went to my local feeder calf auctions today, saw the little signs and on them were E or W or E/W. A brief description of what the animal was, ie dairy and the sex (mainly). So I walked up and down the pens, saw some angus i liked, but was puzzled by the E or W lettering. I txtd my former dairy work mate and asked him, whats a E or W for a calf? He couldn't come up with an answer (we were both thinking breed) so off to the furtherest corner I trot and without being in earshot of anyone I asked one of the workers, what is an E or W calf?..... Elders or Wrightson I am told. the selling agents.

Was my face red......

Anyhow most of the sales were bulls by the way.

Sue
3rd August 2009, 05:42 PM
If you have well bred Jersey bulls from a good herd with figures then there is a market for them, even as yearlings to tail up heifers in dairy herds. Look on TM to see if there are any yearlings for sale yet and see what they go for.

Stick with the agent that you bought your cows off and this time next year get back at him to sell your bull for you! He could always group him with similar age animals even a bit earlier-by selling him to a Bull lease operation that may buy in weaners and run them through the winter as a mob and before the trouble starts.

One thing to bear in mind, and check with the agent, dairy farmers that want to buy bulls ,usually want them BVD tested clear and BVD vaccinated as well as perhaps Lepto and 5:1 which means a few vaccinations. It is not always wanted-but if you can say he is done it helps the return![:D]

Perhaps you could also sell him to the neighbour when weaned to go in with his mob. Ask him about where they go and what if any vaccs. are needed.
Cow reared ones will look better at weaning too.

Yes it could be a handy income earner, particularly if you can get hold of good type calves, and get rid of them before they dig up the paddocks! Bulls like to have a playground where they congregate in the evenings and playfight-doesn't do the grass much good!

bev
3rd August 2009, 06:17 PM
Swaggie, with your jersey bull, stick with your agent, I rear jersey bulls for service bulls as yearlings, they go to mate the R2 heifers, i averaged $1400 a head this year, but i dont think that prices will be that good this year as everyone has got jersey bulls everywhere!! Like most things when there is a demand and numbers are low, prices are high, this year will be the opposite.
They are horny teenagers, i dont find them too bad for digging holes, unlike the bloody friesans who seem to have a dominance issue , where the jerseys want to root anything that is on four legs!
Most importantly is you have to do them really really well to make good money, doesnt matter if they are recorded or not, as most go to service heifers and generally they are bobbied. Most farmers, if they want to keep replacements from heifers will use AI. 99% cows at this time are year are having calves to AI.
Nice w/f calf :-)
Up to you wether you do jersey bulls or beef, alot less risk in beef though. If you do bulls, stick with the same sex, makes life alot easier when you havent got hussy heifers and horny bulls making 'eyes' at each other, Im sure you can always get more cows from the local farmer.

LongRidge
3rd August 2009, 08:05 PM
You need high fences is you are keeping bulls and heifers or cows, to keep them separate until you want mating to happen. I've had all jump a normal 1m high fence from standing still. Another leaped a 5 ft high 150x50mm wooden gate, breaking the top rail as she went over.
Unless you are very, very experienced with bulls, I would very strongly recommend against hand-raising them. You might just remotely make some money out of it/them, but that's not much use if you are injured or dead.
For those of you rearing calves, remember to get them dehorned as young as possible. If you can feel the little knobs before they are 3 weeks old then they need doing before they are 4 weeks old. You will need some way to hold them still while the vet administers anaesthetic. As they get bigger that gets more difficult.

max2
3rd August 2009, 08:22 PM
Good points. In our case we have another 60 odd paper acres to separate the bulls from the rest (or the rest from the bulls) if need be, plus 12 acres on lease that the sheep are into as we speak.

My point in this apart from informing myself is for a new person (ie me) the concept of land size and its uses is important.
If One were to have only a few acres, then its important to get across the requirements of bull calves versus heifer calves...

the adjoining neighbour who is raising jersey bulls has them at a leased property some distance away. His herd adjoining our property is strictly for dairy, although he has 3 jersey crosses on a friesan in one of his house paddocks. But he could move them if need be. Some people don't have that option so its a thought to talk about it anyhow.....

FraSla
3rd August 2009, 09:54 PM
Or power, put a hot wire higher up along the top of the fence and connect it to the mains and they'll soon learn not to jump!

sssnake
3rd August 2009, 10:16 PM
If you can feel the little knobs before they are 3 weeks old then they need doing before they are 4 weeks old. You will need some way to hold them still while the vet administers anaesthetic. As they get bigger that gets more difficult.<!-- / message -->

I thought if cattle were dehorned before nine months of age no anaesthetic is required?

cranky
3rd August 2009, 10:30 PM
Thank you for all your advice and information there is certainly alot to think about before we go ahead [:)]. We are looking at getting freisian x calves.
I have told the kids and hubby "you are NOT allowed to name any of the stock as it will be your dinner one day" but kids being kids, and hubby being......well hubby, who knows what will happen.[:D]

FraSla
4th August 2009, 11:31 AM
I thought if cattle were dehorned before nine months of age no anaesthetic is required?

Correct, they don't need anaesthetic, and instead of getting the vet in you could find out when your local dairy farmer is doing his calves if he is getting a contractor in or does them himself and get him to do them. They just burn them off, or there is an acid paste you can buy that burns them but its not very nice, you have to be very careful with it.

LongRidge
4th August 2009, 11:58 AM
FraSla, the problem with a high wire is that to get a shock, whatever touches the hotwire also has to touch the earth (be it the Earth or an earthed wire). That's why birds don't die when they perch on power lines. So a high hotwire might not work for a bull or heifer that can jump.

sssnake, the law, at the moment, says that you can dehorn up to 9 months without anaesthetic ..... but it is bloody cruel to the animal.

sssnake
4th August 2009, 12:32 PM
Yeah its a nasty business, I remember the farm I worked during school holidays dehorning R3 bulls, jammed in a crush and a headbail sometimes having to cut the horns off with a hacksaw as the clippers wouldn't fit around them, no anaesthetic or vet back then

Some of those big boys used to stay down for 2 or 3 days in the paddock after that :o

bev
4th August 2009, 01:51 PM
Bulls are the biggest chickens of hot fences, not saying they dont try, but they respect them alot more than the cows/pets.

LongRidge
5th August 2009, 10:01 AM
Reminder to self ..... earth the dead wires on that post, batten and wire fence that I put a hot wire above last year ......

sod
5th August 2009, 10:27 AM
LR yes must remember to do that on new fences as I remember too.......

max2
10th August 2009, 05:28 PM
Cranky, our Freddie is destined for the freezer and E is already over him. naming is a good way of being able to identify who you mean over dinner conversations etc (yes they end up taking over your lives and interests, very boring to the city folk) but if the kids know they are allowed 1 pet (E has gone for the lamb in the shed we are bottle feeding) kids are generally pretty good.