Three Things You Need To Bottle Feed Baby Cows (AKA Calves)

Okay, a lot of people say bottle feeding calves is a difficult process. Well, I’m not going to lie to you- it is. But, if you have these three things, it’s going to be a lot easier.

My messy boys really had fun one morning with their bottles!!

1. Passion
This probably goes without saying, but without passion for what you’re doing, it’s going to be miserable. Animals are smart creatures. So if they see that what you’re doing is out of love, they’ll probably respond accordingly!

2. Committment
Okay. This is the tricky part for a lot of people. And this is gonna be specific towards bottle feeding. Calves are like your babies. They have to be fed twice a day. And not just once in the morning and once at night. No. They need a routine. So, for example, I feed my calves after we are done milking. So they know that they get fed around 9:30 am and again around 7:30 pm. And back to them being smart. They know that it’s feeding time- They’re waiting at the gate! 
But, back to commitment. This is the hardest thing because many people don’t realize what this entails. Out to eat with friends? You need to be home by 7:30 to feed your calves! Going on vacation? Well, that’s not going to happen unless you have friends who would be willing to stick with your schedule for you while you’re gone. It’s tough. But, if you have the passion, then it should be something you don’t mind doing!

3. Time
This last thing is difficult too. There are only 24 hours in a day, right? And in the society we live in, most people have all 24 of those hours packed with stuff to do. The actual act of bottle feeding doesn’t take that long. I can feed 6 in less than 10 minutes (this requires a system, though, which I will cover in a future post). The lengthy part is getting the milk ready. In our case, we milk our cow and give the milk straight to the calves- so it’s already warm. But if you are feeding formula or cold milk, you have to warm it up- which could take up to 30 minutes depending on how many calves you have. But, if you can set away an hour in the morning and an hour at night each day, you can get this done!!!! 
However, I do have a slight warning: Sometimes, you’ll need extra time. You never know if one of them will get sick or require extra attention. That 10 minutes I mentioned above, that’s how it is when there are no issues. When our goats had babies and I had to help them drink milk, I was getting up every three hours to help them. This included during the night. BUT IT WAS SO REWARDING. 

See that tongue?! He knew it was almost milking time!

This is not meant to scare anybody. But there’s no point in sugar coating it just to have somebody find out first hand how tough it could be! Feeding calves is an incredible experience! I have raised 24 since the beginning of the year and it is only getting more and more rewarding. The biggest take-away point is that it when you are bottle feeding calves (or anything for that matter), they become your children and you have to treat them as such!

So go get a bottle calf… and enjoy!

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