Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Raising Calves

Here's another post adapted from one on the Co-op Blog

New babies are always exciting!  We have had calves born here on the farm (Wags and Mimi) and calves we've brought here and fostered onto Lucy (Honey and Poppy).  We've never raised calves ourselves though, Lucy has always helped.  You can read lots about our journey with a house cow and calves throughout the co-op blog and here this blog.

One week ago, a new little guy arrived - Red.  He's being raised for the freezer and is a by-product of the dairy industry.  I tried to foster him onto Lucy alongside Mimi (who is a big girl at over 4 months now), but Lucy's not exactly keen on calves which aren't her own!  So I began bottle feeding him.  I had some frozen milk from when Lucy first calved (with colostrum) and some powdered calf formula from the feed store in town.

Bottle feeding a calf with calf formula is something I remember doing as a child.  Also trying to convince them to drink from a bucket by letting the calves suck our fingers.  It was lots of fun, even though newborn calves are quite pushy and can easily bump a child over!

By the end of the week, Blossom arrived.  She's an old Jersey Nanny cow who has come from my friends' farm.  She used to live at a dairy and worked hard making milk for sale and then raising calves.  She has the sweetest disposition and has not only adopted two more calves we got from a dairy (below), but Red is also mostly feeding from her now too!  He still has some bottle milk, but he's getting used to feeding from Bloss which is fantastic.

You can read about calf-raising here.  And if you have experience with raising calves, or other baby animals, please Comment!


farmer_liz said...

We always find it a challenge on the first couple of days to get the calf used to the bottle, and after that they are no trouble. Its a bit scary if you're a new calf "mother" and can't get them to feed at first though! We are expecting a calf in September, I so excited and nervous for Bella (although I'm sure she knows what she's doing). Your post reminded me that we should freeze the excess colostrum milk just in case we need it in future.

Zara said...

I enjoy the whole process of calf raising, and I remember trying to get them to drink from a bucket. They quickly learn the feeding routine, the mooing would start when you could be seen through the kitchen window of a morning.