Feeding calves meal

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12 years 7 months ago #28320 by suckerpunchnz
Hey guys,

We're about to hand rear a couple of bobby calves, for beef, for the first time. (just for the experience and fun (hopefullly))
Unfortuntately we are receiving them earlier then expected (tomorrow) and we don't have much grass yet.
The calves will be either fresian or fresian X jersey.

So the plan is to feed them milk until they're 90-100kg, and meal until there's enough grass.

I can easily follow the feeding instructions for the milk but I have no idea about the meal.

What type of meal is the best? RD1 sell 3-4 different calf meals and I've had two different sales persons at RD1 tell me conflicting information!

How often should I feed meal?
How much meal should I feed?
How do I not over feed them?

Thanks in advance for the help.

Phil.

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12 years 7 months ago #387460 by kindajojo
Replied by kindajojo on topic Feeding calves meal
personally I will buy from anywhere but never from RD1 for that reason.

Buy a good high protein mix, a vet will recommend a good brand and supplier if they dont have any themselved.
MOOSLI is good, and follow the instructions. It has molasses and is more fibrous:confused:
I have found they are not so keen on the pelletised ones.
If you have a bucket that can hang over the rail and not be tipped over thats an advantage. put a bit in the bottom, when they have eaten that put a bit more in. It is expensive and they play with it and waste it if there is too much.

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12 years 7 months ago #387466 by Rothwell
Replied by Rothwell on topic Feeding calves meal
When we try to get calves onto meal or pellets, it takes a couple of days or longer of forcefeeding to get them used to the idea. Start small and increase the amount when they have learnt that it is food, otherwise the birds will eat it all.
I feed at a slightly different time than when I give the milk. Milk is digested in the abomasum, and if it gets into the rumen then the animal can get indigestion, which sometimes kills. The suckling stimulates the valve that directs the food into the abomasum, so animals should be fed with a teat, and as they get older the teat should become harder to get the milk out of (which is the opposite way to what usually happens) So use a faster teat when they are young, and a slower teat when they get to 4-6 weeks.
If you can manage it, little and often is much better than fewer and large feeds of milk. I feed 4 times per day for the first 4 weeks, then 3 times per day, then twice daily, and once daily some time in the last week.
Do not dilute the powder more than the directions on the bag. There must be enough solids in the made-up milk for it to curdle properly in the abomasum.
Check that the dilution directions on the bag are correct - some aren't.
The meal, and grass, and hay/straw, must not get into the abomasum. So that should be fed about 30 minutes or more after the the milk. Only give them their daily ration, not more in the hope they will save some for later, because they (or the birds) won't.
They will start picking at grass and hay from about 3 days old, so feed them some good quality hay out in a paddock. Paddocks get sterilised by sunshine, so are healthier places than sheds.
Cattle (and sheep) don't naturally live in dens, so don't like sheds much. Give them a covered, sheltered area but let them in the paddock most of the time.
Short, new grass is much more nutritious than older grass. Even here in Nelson it is growing now, so if you are north of here then the new growth should keep up with their grass requirement.

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12 years 7 months ago #387472 by mandyb
Replied by mandyb on topic Feeding calves meal
I am trying Fibre-Gain for the first time this season and the calves really seem to like it, put it in their mouths for the first day or two but they got the hang if it pretty quick and within a week they were eating it and also niblbling on hay and grass when they are outside. Best calves I have had yet and when the weather improves will be back outside full time as they did so much better than in the barn. Was out last night at hospital and the calves were fed 5 hours later than usual, in that time they had emptied their hay nets which surprised me :)

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12 years 7 months ago #387671 by Crusha
Replied by Crusha on topic Feeding calves meal
I put our calves (Hereford/Freisian) onto once a day milk feeds as soon as possible. If the calf is at least four days old and doing well it should be able to handle around 3l per day initially and up to around 4l per calf per day. (one year I had access to so much milk I had them on 6l per day prior to weaning, massive beautiful calves) You will have to watch them carefully, especially the jersey or jersey cross, they can have trouble coping sometimes. At the same time or certainly within the first week of getting them home, on Golden Stockfoods Calf Muesli just a couple of handfulls per calf initially then when they are obviously eating it they get about a kilo per calf adlib in a feeder in the pen. Once they are right into the muesli I check the feeder everyday and if it is getting low I put a half a 25kg bag into it. ( I have 12 calves in each pen) After about a month or so I gradually move them onto Golden Stockfoods Pellets. Just prior to weaning I can go through a 25kg bag every two or three days. They also get adlib barley straw. You will have to make sure they have access to adlib water as well, particularly if they go to once a day feeds.

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12 years 7 months ago #387715 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic Feeding calves meal
Crusha, if you have to do it, then be aware there are problems with once-daily. I've seen very distressed, very bloated calves due to them drinking too much, and some of the milk overflowing into the rumen. Calves too pick up Clostridium perfringens bugs (those that cause Pulpy Kidney in lambs). If the bugs have a party in the rumen from all the extra sugar that has got in with the milk, then that will make the calf very sick.
So I repeat, little and often is better for the calfs chance of survival. Once daily is like "How lucky do you feel, punk?" quoting Dirty Harry.

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12 years 7 months ago #387794 by Crusha
Replied by Crusha on topic Feeding calves meal
I did say that at the beginning you had to watch them carefully. But having said that I have never had a problem with properly introduced calves, either my own or the ones I raise on the Dairy farm. On the Dairy farm I wait until they are up to three weeks old and eating pellets, but even the smallest jerseys cope very well on once a day. (getting a max of 4l/calf/day). We change them onto it over four days and so far none have looked back, to the point that when the Vet comes to de-horn the them, they always comment favourably on the condition of the calves. It has very little to do with luck and much more to do with paying attention to your calves and watching them closely, particularly while you change their regime.

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12 years 7 months ago #387809 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic Feeding calves meal
Not at all. My Dad was a veterinarian, who "did everything right" and the above happened to him. The problem is more likely to happen later in the calf's life when the rumen has developed and the calf is eating grass and soil. The Clostridia spores are eaten with the soil, and sit in the rumen waiting for the milk to arrive. If so much milk is fed that the valve which holds it in the abomasum does not work properly, then milk can spill out of the abomasum and into the rumen.
The same thing can happen if the valve is not stimulated to send the milk to the abomasum. The valve is stimulated by suckling, so the stronger the suckling then the better to get the milk into the right place. Thus bucket reared calves are more at risk than teat fed ones.
If the cow has been vaxed with 5-in-1 and the calf has had plenty of colostrum from that cow, early in it's life, then the calf will get some protection against the Clostridials for a while. But those antibodies wear out as the calf ages, so as the calf gets older it has less antibody protection. I suspect that some dairy farmers do not vax their cows with 5-in-1 or some other anticlostridial. It is a bitch of a job to do, can cause a huge lesion on the cow, and is only of benefit to the calf which is a by-product of the milk industry. With what I know now, if I were handrearing calves on powder I would be inclined to give them a vax of LambVax at about 4 weeks, to protect them from the perfringens, before their 5-in-1 at 8 weeks and again at 12 weeks.

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