A couple of months ago, we purchased two newly born baby Holstein bull calves from a reputable local dairy. Purchasing them direct from the dairy ensured that the calves had received their colostrum, which is essential to the survival of a calf. Our children promptly named the calves “Charlie” and “Wilbur”. Husband calls them 94 & 95 in keeping with the numbers on their enormous ear tags. Our plan is to graze them until they reach 300-400lbs and sell them at auction.
They were bottle fed twice daily until weaning at six weeks. Post-weaning, we all developed a new appreciation for the term “bawling”. Especially during what was their morning and evening meal-time, the calves bawled. And bawled. And bawled. Apparently this bawling can put added stress on their respiratory system, so we needed a cache of appropriate meds on hand to treat any potential complications. So far, so good. No meds needed yet.
If you are considering bottle feeding baby calves, read something like this from the University of Wisconsin. It walks you through most things you will have to do to raise healthy bottle-fed calves. You’ll find it can be a lot of hard, tedious work. Rain or shine, you’ll need to feed them twice daily. You’ll need to clean their bottles or buckets after every feeding. You may have to administer shots. You’ll have to use a bander and possibly a de-horner, both of which require holding the calf still. If you do your homework and still think you might like to do it… go for it!