First milk, the good stuff, top shelf, the best milk a calf can get. Otherwise this milk is known as colostrum. Colostrum is the milk produce by the cow in the first few days after birth. This special milk is full of vitamins and loaded with the cows own antibodies to fight illness. This milk gets a new born calf off to a great start in life, but not all calves are able to nurse on this magic moo juice.
The cow might die in the birth process or became too weak to stand up for a few days after birth. Sometimes the tits on the cow’s bag are too large for a newbie to nurse; there are many reasons why a calf could miss its colostrums. This does not have to be the end for the young calf. It still got a good chance of living with some help form a nursing bottle.
If I find the calf in the first ten hours after birth, then I will mix up the first bottle of milk replacer with a colostrum supplement. I will let the baby calf nurse as much of the bottle as it can. Only give this supplement for one bottle and then go with a regular milk replacer. If the newbie is older than ten hours, I feel that colostrum supplement does not do the calf any good, so strait with the regular milk replacer. I always like to use a natural milk replacer that is rated for one to ninety days old. I think it is important that the milk replacer provides enough nutrients of the age of the calf, so be sure you read the bag. Many times when a baby calf is sickly or recovering from illness, I like to use grade A ultra milk replacer, so the weak calf will have something extra nursing on.
We have raised many calves that were not able to nurse a cow’s first milk. These calves seem to have a bit more problems. They have the tendency to get sick much easier and once ill, they are slower to recover from the illness. The odds of these calves making it to weaning age differently goes down. There are several reasons that can cause a calf not to live ninety days and be old enough to get off the bottle. Most cows are unable to raise every calf they give birth to. In fact, the chances of a first time mother cow are only about half the time she will raise her first calf. Mother Nature is on the cows side while for us with a nursing bottle, were fighting an uphill battle for the first week or two.
It takes a lot of effort to bottle feed a calf. You’re committed to feeding twice a day sometimes three. This is not a situation most ranchers like to find themselves in. There were problems with the cow that that force the rancher to make this effort. If you find that you have calf that is in need of a bottle, the newbie will die without milk, and then roll up your sleeves, mix up some milk, and place that nipple in its mouth. In a few days, you might just find that this calf punches hard for not getting its first milk.