country-enterprise.co.uk - click here for home page

The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Keeping beef
>..Calf feeding
...Rearing

When the calf first arrives you have to teach it to drink from the bucket.

This can be very difficult with awkward calves who dislike the possibility of being drowned in the bucket. You can make it very easy by adapting your bucket to take the teat feeders available at agricultural suppliers. We turned to these in desperation one cold winter when we had a batch of Charolais crosses. For some reason they were the most awkward feeders.

The usual thing is to gently lead the calf's muzzle down into the milk with your fingers. The calf will happily suck your fingers: after all they are very like Mother's milk dispensers. These calves all grabbed on to your fingers, bit the backs of them with their sharp-edged teeth, then butted in furiously to give the signal for the milk to start flowing. All that did to chapped fingers was to start the blood flowing!

The monsters were madly enthusiastic about the teat system. The problem was to fasten the buckets so that their butting did not send the milk up into the air. Anyway our hands recovered and now we feed all the calves this way. The calves are fed on reconstituted dried milk. This is cheaper than whole milk even if you produce the milk. You can sell the milk you produce for more. If you have Channel Island cows and for some reason have to feed their milk to calves, you must dilute it with water. About a third as much water as milk is generally sufficient. If you do not, the calves will scour as the milk is so rich. This is even the case if you feed Channel Island milk to Channel Island calves. Naturally Polled Charolais - this could be the shape of champion beef bulls of the future The calves are weaned on to a cereal mix. The simplest way to buy this is pre-mixed from an agricultural merchant.

...next