Bottle calves?

Chic Rustler

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
May 11, 2017
Messages
2,286
Reaction score
2,876
Points
247
My father in law is a farmer who also raises cattle. One of his neighbors is a small dairy. He is very insistent that I should buy 2 bottle calf from the dairy and feed them out for slaughter. I don't know much about it but I figure a ton of grain and a couple round bails would probably get them threw for the most part and I can get a ton of grain for $250. The calves are selling for $50-100 each.

I would have to run a couple hundred feet of hot wire to keep them contained in the back acre and build them a small shed to get out of the rain.


I'm thinking of giving it a shot in the spring. Lord knows we could use the meat for sure. Any of you guys have experience with bottle calfs?
 

NH Homesteader

Sustainability Master
Joined
Sep 7, 2016
Messages
7,192
Reaction score
4,847
Points
307
Do yoh know what breed they are? No personal experience but I've talked cattle with people a fair amount. There are a lot of really experienced cattle folks on Backyard Herds, if you ever go over there.
 

Chic Rustler

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
May 11, 2017
Messages
2,286
Reaction score
2,876
Points
247
they are milk cows, but he said they eat good too. Evidently he grew up eating Holsteins
 

NH Homesteader

Sustainability Master
Joined
Sep 7, 2016
Messages
7,192
Reaction score
4,847
Points
307
There's not a lot of meat on a Holstein! A Jersey would be the dairy breed I've heard produces the best meat. So it depends on what breed they are, how well you would make out. But I am not an expert, I've just talked to them :)
 

Chic Rustler

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
May 11, 2017
Messages
2,286
Reaction score
2,876
Points
247
idk....i figure an 800 lb steer would put meat in the freezer no matter what the breed.


What scares me is the bottle feeding part, scours, and all the other instant death stuff.
 

milkmansdaughter

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
1,308
Reaction score
1,532
Points
217
Location
Alabama
Our old Pastor raises 1-2 cows a year for their freezer, plus 3-4 hogs (keeps one or two and sells the meat of the others), a few rabbits, and chickens. His part time job is working in a dairy farm.

Holsteins usually produce more milk (if you're looking for milk), and are bigger, but jerseys have a sweeter temperament, and richer milk. A lot of the milk in a store comes from Holsteins.
 

Beekissed

Mountain Sage
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
Messages
12,618
Reaction score
3,454
Points
437
Location
Mountains of WV
idk....i figure an 800 lb steer would put meat in the freezer no matter what the breed.


What scares me is the bottle feeding part, scours, and all the other instant death stuff.

Figure in the price of milk maker....it's costly. Ask around for how many bags you'll go through until you can wean them to hay and grain. You'll also need minerals, so that's another added cost.

Holsteins don't put on a lot of meat, mostly big bones. You'd have to feed them for a 1-2 yrs to get them to butchering size(18 mo. is average for a beef steer but you may have to go more for a milk breed), so figure that into the price as well.

Scours are easy if you just add some buttermilk to their bottle when you see any such thing appear~I've stopped scours in milk calves in just that manner.

Another good thing to try is to study up on how to hold the bottle so that the milk goes into their milk stomach~the omasum~ and not into their grass stomachs...going into the grass stomach it can still digest, but not well and fully, and usually results in a pot bellied appearance on the cow even clear up to butcher. It can also lead to more incidence of bloat and scours.

It's best to feed from a nipple, either bucket or bottle, and place it in such a position that the calf has to reach down and upward, as if nursing from its mother...this will open the esophageal groove and direct the milk into the omasum.

The pictures one often sees of people bottle feeding young livestock shows them standing up, reaching down with the bottle, and the young stock reaching up to the nipple....not ideal and creates problems, even aspiration into the lungs, resulting in pneumonia.

When planning living quarters, if you live in cold regions, plan for how you will keep water unfrozen and plentiful in the winter months. That's often an added cost as well.

Also, when devising a place for them to stay, you'll want somewhere you can run them into a pen or stall of some kind as you never know when you will need to do any kind of vet care on them~pink eye, worming, fly treatment, vaccines, etc. and then will come the time to load them into the trailer for butchering...it comes in handy if you have a loading chute of some kind, even if it's just two cattle gates lined up to form a chute.
 

Wannabefree

Little Miss Sunshine
Joined
Sep 27, 2010
Messages
13,394
Reaction score
702
Points
407
Dairy breed steers take forever to grow out for meat purposes...that's why they're so cheap, that and their health risks from being pulled from their mothers so fast.
 

Beekissed

Mountain Sage
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
Messages
12,618
Reaction score
3,454
Points
437
Location
Mountains of WV
I agree...most don't even get enough colostrum to do them before they are shipped off to the livestock auctions, day old, scours and all.
 

Wannabefree

Little Miss Sunshine
Joined
Sep 27, 2010
Messages
13,394
Reaction score
702
Points
407
Yeah it's sad, and there's little chance of getting a female, only if they're runt or sickly and even that's rare.
 
Top