Training dairy calf to bottle?

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.
raykour
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Training dairy calf to bottle?

Postby raykour » Sun Jun 15, 2014 10:43 am

I got a dairy calf from a dairy farm yesterday. I was super impressed with this place it was very clean and meticulous and they do right by the newborns becasue they have a contracted buyer for all of them. They get fed colostrum 3 times in 24 hours and they dip the navels and all that good stuff. I ended up with this one because she was a crossbred from a cow they must have bought at auction or something, which happens occasionally the manager told me, and the contract buyer doesn't want them.

Anyway, my question is this calf does not take a bottle. I fought with her last night to get 1 pint of milk down her and I fought with her this morning to get 2 pints of milk down her. How the heck does the dairy get 3 feedings of colostrum into all of these calves? There were at least 20 of them in the day old pen, all marked 3 times with pink paint, which the guy that worked there told me they paint them on the nose, back, and rump one mark each time they are fed to keep track. Do they tube feed them? I thought she would be hungry this morning and just go to town but we had another rodeo (she is a big, strapping calf)
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Re: Training dairy calf to bottle?

Postby regolith » Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:19 pm

It's possible that they tube feed refusers to ensure they get the three feeds. In fact it's highly likely, not every calf is going to be hungry that often especially if they filled up off mum first.

It's also quite likely that there is something different about your bottle or the milk your offering that the calf is objecting to... too hot or too cold or is used to fresh and doesn't like the taste of reconstituted powder.
She should be getting hungry after three pints in 24 hours. Temp of the milk should be blood heat or just below & check the milk runs freely out of the teat when squeezed. I know there's lot of literature against feeding them too fast, but a calf can get frustrated on a new teat that barely lets the milk out at all.
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Re: Training dairy calf to bottle?

Postby cowgirl8 » Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:36 pm

You'll think, this calf will never nurse this %#@( bottle..lol.. Once it kicks in, it kicks in. I bet they bagged the calf and sometimes that irritates their little throats. If you are worried about it getting fluids, use a big syringe and a small tube, like a aquarium pump hose and stick the tube down the side of her mouth and slowly squeeze in milk and watch for her to swallow. Hold her head up like she's nursing something and keep her fluids up. On the bottle, cut the nipple and vent hole so that the milk comes out easily. No calf will nurse it like it is if they are just learning unless its are really vigorous.. Watch for scours...
I have a preemie sitting out on the back porch i've been working with for a week. She's just now getting the hang of it...its been a loooooong road.
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raykour
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Re: Training dairy calf to bottle?

Postby raykour » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:40 pm

This calf eagerly ate tonight. Either out of sheer hunger or I put what I would consider a more "medium" flow nipple on the bottle.

I have raised a few before. 2 right out of the cow because of birthing issues (one was a prolapse, I forget the other situation) where the cow couldn't mother. They both sucked down their first bottle of colostrum and never looked back! I have had to fight a couple others to take a nipple especially after they nursed their mother. I am just not familiar with the goings on at a dairy, and didn't know what the protocol would be to get the colostrum down them. These folks apparently run a tight ship and are serious about keeping their contract buyer happy so want to have healthy calves. I suppose using tube is no less a time eater than sitting there fiddling with one trying to get it to suck.
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Re: Training dairy calf to bottle?

Postby suzorse » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:16 pm

the milk you are feeding make sure it is 101 to 102 temp at feeding, it will feel real warm to you
good job on finding a nice heifer calf
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Re: Training dairy calf to bottle?

Postby regolith » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:17 am

Tubing can be done very fast by an experienced person, much faster than a hungry calf can suck down a bottle.
I couldn't say either what is happening in someone else's dairy but 'three feeds in 24 hours' sounds odd, a bit more effort than ought to be required for the average calf.

It's safe to say that some newborn calves will suck off their mothers before they're separated and some won't, and in case they haven't it's standard practise on most dairies to feed the calf asap, with mixed first-milking colostrum from the cows that have calved that day or the day before. Some might tube a reluctant sucker even if it's obvious that the calf has already fed and isn't hungry. We get bombarded with information all the time about how important colostrum is and that blood tests prove hardly any calves get enough if left with the cow, hence a lot of places put big effort into getting that colostrum into the calf.
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Re: Training dairy calf to bottle?

Postby hillsdown » Tue Jun 17, 2014 3:45 pm

regolith wrote:Tubing can be done very fast by an experienced person, much faster than a hungry calf can suck down a bottle.
I couldn't say either what is happening in someone else's dairy but 'three feeds in 24 hours' sounds odd, a bit more effort than ought to be required for the average calf.

It's safe to say that some newborn calves will suck off their mothers before they're separated and some won't, and in case they haven't it's standard practise on most dairies to feed the calf asap, with mixed first-milking colostrum from the cows that have calved that day or the day before. Some might tube a reluctant sucker even if it's obvious that the calf has already fed and isn't hungry. We get bombarded with information all the time about how important colostrum is and that blood tests prove hardly any calves get enough if left with the cow, hence a lot of places put big effort into getting that colostrum into the calf.


3 feedings in 24 hours is the way it should be done depending on when they were born and how often cows calving are checked.
Eg. Calf born at 6 am , feed it at least 4 pints of colostrum more if it is a rather large calf , then at 6 pm (12 hours later) another 4 pints and then at 6 am (24 hours later) another 4 pints . 3 feedings in 24 hours . If it were mine at the dairy it would get one more feeding of colostrum at 6 pm that day then the next AM would switch it to milk .

I agree Rego , with all of the information we are given and how important colostrum is for a healthy calf and immune system they can never seem to get too much in the first 24 hours . After that I would be careful about just how much one feeds or rather force feeds a new born .

Glad to hear your calf is taking to the bottle raykour !
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Re: Training dairy calf to bottle?

Postby regolith » Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:00 pm

You're right. I was thinking they were trying to feed them a bottleful eight hours apart, which for some calves would ensure they weren't hungry for their feed - the larger ones would probably manage it.

My calves get weaker colostrum until they're 5 - 7 days old, so usually first milking colostrum is fed for the first 36 hours then transition gradually to milk using second/third/fourth milking 'colostrum'.
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