Saturday, September 29, 2012

I feel like a bad (calf) mommie

I have two bottle calves.  I call them my babies because they ARE (yes, even George, who is destined for our freezer).  If I don't feed them their bottles twice daily, they starve.  They depend on me. 
I used to raise a lot of calves, but at that time I milked four or five cows and had lots of real milk.  I never weaned my babies earlier than two months of age, and usually not even that early.  These days I am buying 25-pound bags of milk replacer at $40 per bag.  That only lasts two calves nine days.  Wow.  
Even back when I was raising so many bottle calves, the guideline for weaning was this:  When the calf is consuming 1 1/2 pounds of calf starter (a mixed grain ration for baby calves), you can wean them, no matter what their age.  A few days ago I read an article online saying that with milk replacer cost being so high, it's OK to wean a calf as young as one month old, as long as he is consuming sufficient grain.  
George is an eating machine.  But he's a BABY!  He's so LITTLE!  
However, I decided to take the advice of experts.  This morning George had a bottle.  "I am going to skip his bottle tonight," I told Cliff, "and see how it goes.  
It was so difficult for me;  if you've had children, you remember how it feels when you take that bottle away from them.
First I made sure George had plenty of calf starter in his little bunk, and I even mixed about a half-cup of dry milk replacer in with it.  I checked to see that he had water in his bucket.    
I didn't want George to see Gracie having a bottle while he was being deprived, so I fed Gracie in a different spot so that her hutch blocked George's view.  Yeah, I know.  They're animals.  Would he really know what was going on?  Probably not, but I'm human, and I don't want to watch Cliff eating an ice-cream-cone right in front of me if I can't have one.
I came to the house and looked out the window several times.  George was eating his grain.  I kept thinking I would hear his pitiful little "mooo" (which sounds a lot like "Mommy), but he only mooed once, briefly.  As I type this, he is eating grain again.  
So if most of his feed is gone in the morning, he will be officially weaned.   
There would have been pictures with this entry, but Cliff and his brother went to a tractor pull and Cliff took my camera.  He is SO getting his own camera if this happens very often!  

1 comment:

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

That does seem young to wean a baby, but I hope it continues to work out well.