Raising bottle bucket calves is a great way to get started on a family farm or homestead. A “bucket calf” or a “bottle calf” is any calf that must be hand fed, by bottle or bucket. Some even just call them “bottle bucket calves” . . . We call them ADORABLE!
Where to Find Them
Dairy farms are a great place to purchase these baby cows. Once they have stopped producing colostrum, the mother cow goes back to work doing her job producing milk for the farm. Often times, a busy dairy farm does not have the time and dedication it takes to care for all of these babies. The calves may then be purchased at an affordable discount. This makes them an extremely frugal choice for a family cow.
Check with your local chapter of 4-H to discover local resources. Track them down through the national 4-H site here.
Types of Cows
Jersey, Guernsey or Milking Shorthorn may be more affordable choices for a family milk cow than the larger Holsteins. They don’t produce as much milk as the Holsteins, but for the family homestead, 10 or more gallons a day is simply not needed.
The Jersey heifers are known for their creamy milk production, and sweet disposition. They are tan or brown in color are smaller in size, and can usually be found at a much lower cost than the larger breeds. Guernsey cows are similar, but larger, light reddish brown with white spots. They also make a terrific family cow. The Milking Shorthorn is known as a forage-efficient, healthy, long-lived and productive breed of dairy cow. Learn more about various Heritage breeds of cattle here.
Much like a human baby, once the mother’s milk is no longer available, there is formula to be had. Mixing the powdered formula with warm water is an important part of feeding the youngest of calves. Although there is some cost involved, overall, feeding your calf is not an overwhelming cost. Of course, if you happen to have a family milking goat . . . you won’t need the formula!
Goat milk is another terrific option and can help avoid any instances of digestive problems. You will have fewer cases of scours and the calves grow quickly.
It is a good idea to begin with a rubber nipple. A healthy calf will always act about half starved! They are vigorous feeders. If you notice any change in this behavior, your calf could be in serious trouble. Pay close attention to any major changes in behavior: unclear eyes or a dirty bottom may be signs of scours. The sooner you get help, the better chance they will have.
Whenever possible, buy your calf from a local dairy farm, where you can observe a feeding, can know that they have at least had several days of colostrum, and have not experienced the stress of travel or shipping. If this is not possible, find out what you can about it. Let it suckle from your finger to simulate a feeding as the healthy ones should be very interested in any attempt at feeding.
Once your calf is home and has been feeding by bottle well for several weeks and is healthy and strong, you can switch to bucket feeding to save time and effort. Hand-fed by bottle or by bucket, the trouble and effort you go through for a small calf is well worth it and can be the perfect way to get an affordable milk cow for your family homestead.
Get more detailed information for raising, feeding and housing your calf from Jackie Clay here.
Detailed feeding and care instructions can be downloaded from SavaCaf.com here.
Link up your own frugal tips for home and homestead,
recipes, DIY, or crafts and share ideas to inspire others:
linking up: Fabulously Frugal, Organized 31,Fabulously Frugal Thurs,Sunday Showcase
Powered by Linky Tools
Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…