Best way to keep calves safe?

TXFarmGirl

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My kids (13 & 14) are looking to buy and raise a couple cows for meet, and to show in 4-H. We don’t have the land for it, but our neighbor does, and welcomed them to it. Its a pipe fence, with hay rings, a shelter, different pastures, a bid barn, etc. But the kids only problem is that they are nervous about predators. The neighbor has old dogs that lay around, and dear that run through frequently, but they are still worried about the calves being hurt if they get them. They’re wandering if they get them a little older then on a bottle like 6 or 8+ weeks old if they are big enough then, or if anybody has affordable recommendations about calf protection.

The predators they are worried about are bobcats(because there are bobcats eating their chickens), coyotes, and maybe wolfs, but we haven’t seen any wolfs yet. Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

Baymule

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Most people around here keep bottle calves in huts with cow panel fence. A neighbor raises a couple of bottle calves and has had no losses.

@farmerjan

@Wehner Homestead

Dairies also raise their calves in huts with a small pen. We see them from the highway and they are just out in a pasture with no security or protection. That said, it is good that you are concerned about their safety. perhaps you could keep them in your yard while they are small?
 

farmerjan

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Bottle calves will cost you too much to raise up and the loss factor is higher. Plus yes, they are more susceptible to predators but most predators will not bother an animal that has a little size to it.
First off, you are saying for 4-H and for meat. What breed are you thinking? Don't know what is required for a show calf for 4-H in your area. That should be number one to consider. Get something that will be showable and sellable.

Find out if there are any beef farmers in the area that would have an orphan calf or 2 to sell. Sometimes a twin that a cow won't take or a cow died and leaves a calf. Sometimes a farmer will give a twin or orphan to a kid to raise. Yes, they would be bottle calves. They will cost you a minimum of about $250 to get it to just weaning size. (8 weeks). Milk replacer is expensive. If you go that route ONLY use ALL MILK , milk replacer. Do not use anything with a soy base. The calves do not absorb it well and do not grow well on it and sometimes just will die because they cannot utilize it. A godd high quality calf starter grain and the very best GRASS hay you can find for them when young. Do not go to alfalfa when they are very young.... too rich and often too coarse.

You could keep them in a calf hutch, with a "cattle panel" for a little "yard" in front for them while they are on the bottle.

I would try to find some young weaned calves, 250-350 lbs. Steers to show then eat. It is hard to eat a heifer you have raised up and made a pet of because you will be wanting to keep her to breed. Hard enough to raise a steer that you have made into a bit of a pet, and realize that he has no other purpose than meat for the table.

The only thing that would be much of a predator deterrent would possibly be a donkey or even a llama. Guardian dogs work okay but require real good fences and since you are using a neighbors, not a good fit.

I don't see coyotes being much of a problem for a couple of calves that are 2-300 lbs. Bobcats not an issue with calves even as babies. Wolves may be a bigger deal, but if there aren't any in the area, I would not get too worried about them.
Are coyotes and other predators a big thing? Are the bobcats getting chickens during the day or are you not locking the chickens up in a predator proof house at night? Our biggest problems here are raccoons, possums, foxes, some times coyotes, so the chickens get locked in at night. Owls and some times hawks and we have some trouble with eagles.....
and the miserable BLACK Mexican VULTURES that will kill a new calf in a heartbeat if they can get to it. We've got them up here and I hate them with a passion.
Ask away, we will be glad to help if we can.
 

TXFarmGirl

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Most people around here keep bottle calves in huts with cow panel fence. A neighbor raises a couple of bottle calves and has had no losses.

@farmerjan

@Wehner Homestead

Dairies also raise their calves in huts with a small pen. We see them from the highway and they are just out in a pasture with no security or protection. That said, it is good that you are concerned about their safety. perhaps you could keep them in your yard while they are small?
Those are both really good ideas! Thank you so much!!!
 

TXFarmGirl

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Bottle calves will cost you too much to raise up and the loss factor is higher. Plus yes, they are more susceptible to predators but most predators will not bother an animal that has a little size to it.
First off, you are saying for 4-H and for meat. What breed are you thinking? Don't know what is required for a show calf for 4-H in your area. That should be number one to consider. Get something that will be showable and sellable.

Find out if there are any beef farmers in the area that would have an orphan calf or 2 to sell. Sometimes a twin that a cow won't take or a cow died and leaves a calf. Sometimes a farmer will give a twin or orphan to a kid to raise. Yes, they would be bottle calves. They will cost you a minimum of about $250 to get it to just weaning size. (8 weeks). Milk replacer is expensive. If you go that route ONLY use ALL MILK , milk replacer. Do not use anything with a soy base. The calves do not absorb it well and do not grow well on it and sometimes just will die because they cannot utilize it. A godd high quality calf starter grain and the very best GRASS hay you can find for them when young. Do not go to alfalfa when they are very young.... too rich and often too coarse.

You could keep them in a calf hutch, with a "cattle panel" for a little "yard" in front for them while they are on the bottle.

I would try to find some young weaned calves, 250-350 lbs. Steers to show then eat. It is hard to eat a heifer you have raised up and made a pet of because you will be wanting to keep her to breed. Hard enough to raise a steer that you have made into a bit of a pet, and realize that he has no other purpose than meat for the table.

The only thing that would be much of a predator deterrent would possibly be a donkey or even a llama. Guardian dogs work okay but require real good fences and since you are using a neighbors, not a good fit.

I don't see coyotes being much of a problem for a couple of calves that are 2-300 lbs. Bobcats not an issue with calves even as babies. Wolves may be a bigger deal, but if there aren't any in the area, I would not get too worried about them.
Are coyotes and other predators a big thing? Are the bobcats getting chickens during the day or are you not locking the chickens up in a predator proof house at night? Our biggest problems here are raccoons, possums, foxes, some times coyotes, so the chickens get locked in at night. Owls and some times hawks and we have some trouble with eagles.....
and the miserable BLACK Mexican VULTURES that will kill a new calf in a heartbeat if they can get to it. We've got them up here and I hate them with a passion.
Ask away, we will be glad to help if we can.
Thank you! They have really thought about all of that, and they understand the cycle of life. You gave all helpful information, so thank you for taking the time to type all of that. They now have a wonderful LGD with the chickens, so that’s not a worry for the chickens anymore (yes the dog is supervised, and the chickens do sleep in a secure barn at night). They’ve considered a donkey/llama, but they are worried about them hurting the babies, eating their food, costing extra, etc...They didn’t know how strong/durable the calves would be, so thank you for those pointers too.
 

cjc

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I raise bottle calves in the same area that I raise my sheep herd. My entire sheep herd got killed by coyotes. I have never lost a calf. We have coyotes, deer, cougars, bobcats, etc. Never lost one.
 

Baymule

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I raise bottle calves in the same area that I raise my sheep herd. My entire sheep herd got killed by coyotes. I have never lost a calf. We have coyotes, deer, cougars, bobcats, etc. Never lost one.
I am so sorry about your sheep. My heart breaks for you.
 

Baymule

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Thank you! They have really thought about all of that, and they understand the cycle of life. You gave all helpful information, so thank you for taking the time to type all of that. They now have a wonderful LGD with the chickens, so that’s not a worry for the chickens anymore (yes the dog is supervised, and the chickens do sleep in a secure barn at night). They’ve considered a donkey/llama, but they are worried about them hurting the babies, eating their food, costing extra, etc...They didn’t know how strong/durable the calves would be, so thank you for those pointers too.
Donkeys and llamas are prey animals too. A cougar killed 5 goats a mile from us about a month ago. That lady had guard donkeys. There is NOTHING in donkey DNA that wants to charge at and fight a cougar. I know what those donkeys did, they ran for their lives, probably faster that the goats.
 

cjc

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I am so sorry about your sheep. My heart breaks for you.
Thank you! It was very sad! We had planned to keep them and breed them. Purchased them from a friend. Were hoping to use them for mutton busting practice for my son as well. Im too scared to get more now. A few years back the same thing happened. We used wire and electrical line, locked them up each day by 6pm. Still they got them.
 

Baymule

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Thank you! It was very sad! We had planned to keep them and breed them. Purchased them from a friend. Were hoping to use them for mutton busting practice for my son as well. Im too scared to get more now. A few years back the same thing happened. We used wire and electrical line, locked them up each day by 6pm. Still they got them.
We have 3 Livestock guard dogs. Coyotes are terrible here. If we didn't have the dogs, we wouldn't have sheep. There are two cougars working the area. Our dogs, all the neighborhood dogs were going nuts late one night, a cougar was screaming VERY close to our place-between us and a neighbor.

Have you considered livestock guard dogs?
 

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