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newton the goat

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so I was given a Holstein bull calf as a gift by a local dairy farmer for my family helping take down one of his old barns. he will be staying in their barn until it warms up out here a bit. I'm with him every morning and evening to get him to bond with me so when he comes to our home he will be pretty tame (we are hoping) at least to me since I will be with him the most. he is very healthy in every aspect except one.... size. ... he is absolutely tiny, the farmer who owns the barn has even said he's the tiniest calf they have ever had born at that barn and has offered to give us a bigger one but my grandfather has told him it's fine. he eats up to 4 bottles a day with me ( the feed him mid day at times too if he didn't eat well in the morning), which I have been told by the farm hands to feed him, and he will eat everything.... but while he's eating he starts to shake and almost seem like he is vibrating, they have told me it's normal but I've never raised a calf before so I'm not sure how to react. This is ferdinand, he is a sweet boy but doesn't even make noise yet... at least I haven't heard him over the heifers around him.
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can anyone give me any advice on raising this little guy? Part of the reason for his size was he was a twin but the other calf didn't make it...
 
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cjc

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I was also given a very small calf last year that was a bull calf twin. His brother was about 80lbs he was about 40lbs. Holstein X Angus. He was healthy, just small. He did struggle more than his brother. He scoured when I stepped up his feedings and he also had a harder time staying warm. But now he is a big boy and not much smaller than his twin brother.

It is important to keep this little guy warm, dry and clean. I would also make sure that I prepared him for any illness that would come his way. Most importantly I would make sure this little guy has a pneumonia vaccine/nasal spray. I think its good that you are doing frequent feedings. With my bottle calves I always feed small portions more often for the first month. Most bottle calf raisers will feed 2 times a day where I like to feed 3-4 until they are at least 30 days old. Then at that point if they are doing well I will move them to 2 bigger feedings but with this little guy I would feed him 3 times a day for at least 2 months.

I would get him on grain as soon as he comes to your place. You can get a grain bottle feeder or you can just shove some in his mouth after he is done his bottle. Get him some good quality calf starter. Leave it in his stall with in a bucket. Also leave him hay and water at all times, let him eat grain, hay and drink water free choice.

If he does scour make sure you keep him hydrated. I would have a few packs of electrolytes on hand. If he does get the runs swap out his afternoon feeding for the electrolytes and continue that until the scours clears up.

Personally, I don't like to raise bottle calves on their own. I always make sure they have a buddy. I find they do so much better when they have another one to grow with. They learn faster and they are easier to raise. If I were you I would talk to the farmer about getting another one to raise with this little guy.
 

newton the goat

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I was also given a very small calf last year that was a bull calf twin. His brother was about 80lbs he was about 40lbs. Holstein X Angus. He was healthy, just small. He did struggle more than his brother. He scoured when I stepped up his feedings and he also had a harder time staying warm. But now he is a big boy and not much smaller than his twin brother.

It is important to keep this little guy warm, dry and clean. I would also make sure that I prepared him for any illness that would come his way. Most importantly I would make sure this little guy has a pneumonia vaccine/nasal spray. I think its good that you are doing frequent feedings. With my bottle calves I always feed small portions more often for the first month. Most bottle calf raisers will feed 2 times a day where I like to feed 3-4 until they are at least 30 days old. Then at that point if they are doing well I will move them to 2 bigger feedings but with this little guy I would feed him 3 times a day for at least 2 months.

I would get him on grain as soon as he comes to your place. You can get a grain bottle feeder or you can just shove some in his mouth after he is done his bottle. Get him some good quality calf starter. Leave it in his stall with in a bucket. Also leave him hay and water at all times, let him eat grain, hay and drink water free choice.

If he does scour make sure you keep him hydrated. I would have a few packs of electrolytes on hand. If he does get the runs swap out his afternoon feeding for the electrolytes and continue that until the scours clears up.

Personally, I don't like to raise bottle calves on their own. I always make sure they have a buddy. I find they do so much better when they have another one to grow with. They learn faster and they are easier to raise. If I were you I would talk to the farmer about getting another one to raise with this little guy.
At the moment he is still too small to fit in the calf coats they have for newborns, but he is in a pen with two other young heifers that I am feeding when I feed him. they will likely keep him for a month or so more and then I will be moving him into a pen with my sheep and goats, I wish I had more room for a second cow, but we don't have our other pens up yet. Plus our ground is really too soft for more than one...
I am keeping an eye on him and the others to make sure non of then scour, are there any essential grains I need to mix in his feed once he starts eating solid food?

The pen he is in has the bedding regularly changed and the floor under it scrubbed down so there is no chance of infection or sickness, and no one is allowed into the pen without cleaning their boots with incredibly hot water and a cleaning solution, So there should be a very small chance of cross contamination or the spread of disease.

What is a grain bottle? I haven't heard of those before.
And is it bad to keep a cow with sheep and goats? We will have chickens in there too to eat bugs and such.
 

cjc

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I would get him on grain at one week old. Other than hay and grain (calf starter) that is all he should require.

A grain bottle is essentially a bottle that has a bigger wider nipple that you can put grain in and they can suck the grain back. But since he is being raised for the next month or so like this that will be a tough one to use. I just attach one to the fence so they can free feed.

I would just hand feed him grain after each feeding. When they stop feeding I am sure you have noticed they desire to suckle more. Pick up some grain in your hands and let him suck the grain off your fingers. Do that until he starts turning away from the grain. The first time you do it he may just spit it out or not want much. You may actually have to force it in a bit at first. After a few times he will start to realize he likes and will start chomping away at it.

I don't know if its bad to keep cows with sheep or goats. I don't know much about either. I did raise one bottle calf I had with a horse. It was fine and he liked the company. Now that calf is a cow that has a strange obsession with horses :) He just loves them. So you may just have a sheep/goat loving cow.
 

newton the goat

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I would get him on grain at one week old. Other than hay and grain (calf starter) that is all he should require.

A grain bottle is essentially a bottle that has a bigger wider nipple that you can put grain in and they can suck the grain back. But since he is being raised for the next month or so like this that will be a tough one to use. I just attach one to the fence so they can free feed.

I would just hand feed him grain after each feeding. When they stop feeding I am sure you have noticed they desire to suckle more. Pick up some grain in your hands and let him suck the grain off your fingers. Do that until he starts turning away from the grain. The first time you do it he may just spit it out or not want much. You may actually have to force it in a bit at first. After a few times he will start to realize he likes and will start chomping away at it.

I don't know if its bad to keep cows with sheep or goats. I don't know much about either. I did raise one bottle calf I had with a horse. It was fine and he liked the company. Now that calf is a cow that has a strange obsession with horses :) He just loves them. So you may just have a sheep/goat loving cow.

They have grain bins set up in the pen so they can try it, I'll ask one of the farm hands tonight about the feeding thing (I don't doubt what you said to do at all, just wondering if they have ever done it and if they could show me how)

I'm really looking forward to raising this little guy. I would like to either halter train him or collar train him, which one works best or you found most effective? I have people with successful experience in both so I don't know which one to choose.
 

cjc

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Every farm has their ways and I would trust what the dairy is doing. They raise a lot of calves!

I have personally never tried collar training but I know a lot of dairy cows are. I always halter train the calves I plan to keep. I don't train them super well on them just enough for me to have them stand still and get from point A to point B. Halter training or whatever you decide to use is really valuable when you have a small farm.

I always pat my bottle calves on the head a lot when I feed them. Touch them as much as I can. I find it avoids having a head shy cow. I don't want them to jump back when I go to put my hands on them so always try and warm them up to it when they are little.
 

newton the goat

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Every farm has their ways and I would trust what the dairy is doing. They raise a lot of calves!

I have personally never tried collar training but I know a lot of dairy cows are. I always halter train the calves I plan to keep. I don't train them super well on them just enough for me to have them stand still and get from point A to point B. Halter training or whatever you decide to use is really valuable when you have a small farm.

I always pat my bottle calves on the head a lot when I feed them. Touch them as much as I can. I find it avoids having a head shy cow. I don't want them to jump back when I go to put my hands on them so always try and warm them up to it when they are little.
I have been offered as of today a calf that was not born 3 hours ago, he is one and a half times the size of the little guy just as a new born, the farmer even had me even give him his first feeding and teach him to drink from a bottle. He is absolutely huge... this is him,
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Body wise he is the size of a 21 day old heifer (white, below)
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Besides the stomach. If you had the choice which one would you pick? I'm torn...
 

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What is your purpose for this calf? Are you raising him to butcher? A pet? An Ox for draft work? If for slaughter or draft ox, reality wins and I would take the bigger calf. If for a pet, then my heart would win and I'd take the little guy.
 
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