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Foster calf and other farming stuff...

Posted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:01 pm
by Heidi
I'm sorry that I've hardly been on here in recent times. I seem to be so busy, but when I think where my day has gone I really can't figure it out!

Our Charolais calved on Monday, in THE most inconvenient spot on the whole property (think island surrounded by waist deep water). Although we weren't there at calving, we believe the calf was still born. We have no idea why it would'v been, but there is no evidence that he got up from where he was birthed, and no evidence that she had a traumatic calving in any way.

So, on with the practicalities. DH went and picked up a two day old bull calf from the local dairy farm. A strong healthy Friesian x Jersey (sire). We ran the Charolais up into the cattle race, blocked her in and fed her, and then directed the calf to nurse from behind her. At first she really threw some huge kicks, which would've really killed the little guy if they had connected. Fortunately, all she did was catch her leg up in our extremely well built race, and there wasn't a chance she was going to break out of that! So anyway, he fed. I got up early the Tuesday morning and did it again before I went off to work, and then again in the afternoon.

Last night, I did put the skin of her dead calf onto the new calf. It was heartbreaking to watch. She went ballistic over the calf, and kept licking him the whole time, but not allowing him to feed (you know how they keep going in circles). Somehow she could smell her calf, but new that this wasn't her calf as well. I think if we'd got it done a bit sooner then she may have been fooled, but I when she finally licked it off the calf, I didn't bother tying it back on. I think its will just be better to see if she gets used to him nursing from her of her own accord, and if she doesn't, then twice a day in the shoot for the next 8 to 12 weeks isn't that onerous. Also, if it does proove to be a headache, I might try to foster him onto one of our other cows in milk, who are a bit more used to being handled.

It was also lamb slaughtering day yesterday, with our mobile butcher coming over to do the deed. Honestly, for $30 a head, for him to slaughter, butcher, and bring back in nice cuts in a styrofoam box, its not worth our while trying to learn and do it ourselves.

Anyway, so tired now. Life is hectic at the moment!


Re: Foster calf and other farming stuff...

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:59 am
by Shadowgirlau
So sorry to hear about the still born calf Heidi and hope the fostering of the replacement calf works out in the end.

Not surprising that you are so busy as there is always something occurring or needing attending to on our properties.
Am so envious of your mobile butcher arrangement, over here the mobile butcher costs and arm and two legs (with the cost of the mobile butcher you may as well buy your meat from the supermarket or butcher) so DH has been learning to do it himself. I would rather send the animals away myself though.


Re: Foster calf and other farming stuff...

Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:24 am
by minnie
Hi Heidi,

A woman I met a few years ago who had trouble getting a calf with a cow, put vegemite on the cow and the calf's noses. So she smelled the same as the calf. She said it worked like a charm... not something I've done though.

It's always so sad if they lose their calf, so many things can happen but usually don't.

Good luck with them.

We had the mobile butcher coming here, in Oct! Talk about mess us around, I called him late Oct and cutting it short, he was coming out in a week and would ring the day or two beforehand. Still waiting for the call!!! So we ended up taking our two to Casino on Wednesday and I'm off to talk to the butcher today about cuts etc... but they'll hang until Tues week. Absolutely turned me off trying for the one farm butchering again. We'll certainly only take cattle into the abattoir in the future, but IF we got a couple of sheep or pigs we'd source someone (not him) maybe.


Re: Foster calf update..

Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:44 pm
by Heidi
Everything continues to be hectic. I'm praying for a cool summer!
The new calf is going well. My 5yo named him "Pie" because "we're going kill him an' eat him"...ugh, I've raised barbarians!
The cow will lick him, and let her be near him, but won't let him nurse, unless she's in the cattle race (chute). The thing is, I think she'd let him nurse in the paddock now, if only he'd try! I think he's now conditioned to feeding between her back legs whilst she's in the race, and it just doesn't occur to him to try anywhere else. He used to, and got kicked for his troubles.

Anyway, twice a day is okay, although I do feel for him not feeding ad lib. I saw him drinking water today, copying the cow, so that's good.

Spot will calve any day now. I've got her down as the 19 December, so I'll see. I'll be VERY busy then. Going back to full time work for five weeks, so I really don't know how I'll fit it all in. My DH is great, but he'll be looking after the kids (I hope) so he'll be flat out too.


Re: Foster calf and other farming stuff...

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:21 pm
by Heidi
I hadn't realised I had not updated this thread! So here goes the summary...

Spot calved a healthy heifer calf the week before Christmas 2011... great angst ensued when at 17 hours old, at 8pm the calf took off for the cane fields one km up the road and disappeared. We went and got a foster calf from the dairy (Jersey bull calf) and fostered him onto Spot, which takes a bit of restraint and encouragement, but works well in quick order. So, after searching for three days in vain for the calf, traipsing through the cane lanes and scouring the cane drains, I concluded that heifer calf was dead. Luckily, Spot had bonded with the bull calf quickly, and I resigned myself to going out on Christmas Eve, the following day to look for a floating carcass in the cane drains. I was so pleasantly suprised when the neighbour rang me up to say that the heifer had just turned up on his farm, even further up the road, trying to get a feed of his beef cows! This old farmer, said he was listening to his "wireless" and heard a calf mooing that sounded too young to be any of his (what excellent hearing!!). He went out to check and realised it was the calf that I had asked him to keep an eye out for. He, his wife and his son tackled her, bundled her up and put her in the back of the old station wagon and brought her home to me.

The reunion between Spot and the heifer was the happiest event I have ever witnessed in the animal world. Spot was practically dancing around with joy, and the calf just got back to business of having a drink of milk in what was close to 72 hours! What's better is that Spot showed no favouritism between the two calves, foster or real and did a fantastic job of raising them both. We sold the steered calf a couple of weeks ago at 6mths old for $150. I am uncertain as to what I will do about Sugar in the long term. I will probably sell her on as she will make a good friendly hobby farmer cow to breed from.

The Charolais that had the stillborn calf, accepted the foster calf after about a week of twice daily restricted feeds. She became a wonderful mother to him, and showered him with the same amount of attention that I had seen her visit upon her natural calf the year before. We have just sold him, (we steered him soon after getting him) for $200.

Raisin, who is Spot's daughter (Jersey x Angus) had a cute bull calf to our Angus x Dexter bull, MacGregor. He is now 7 months old and still short and stocky, having all the good qualities of the Angus and Dexter breeds. I will be keeping him for our freezer to see what he dresses out at, at about 18 - 22 months old.

Sky, who is Spot's second daughter (Jersey x Angus) had a beautiful heifer calf. I am so sorely tempted to keep her and probably will let her grow out a bit and gentle her up before selling her to a hobby farmer for a grass eater/breeder. She has once again taken to the Dexter side, being small and stocky (even more so than the steer, but that is probably gender based?). Removing her from the property means I don't have to bother about keeping her separate from the bull until she's old enough to breed. I've heard breeding back to her sire won't necessarily create any genetic issues, but that her progeny will need to be sold on.

So, a busy six months with five calves at foot to four cows. All the cows are back in calf I believe, although haven't done the tail bleed yet to confirm, and doubt I will. I have every confidence that MacGregor has got the job done at the first available opportunity. I am also pretty certain I "bumped" Spot's calf the other day, so I have weaned Sugar also and am drying her off from milking.


Re: Foster calf and other farming stuff...

Posted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:37 pm
by minnie
Well it's all happening on the calving scene down their Heidi.

How great to get the little heifer back and he Mum take her on with the foster.