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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Weaning A Baby Calf Off Its Mother

Chuck Hinman: Weaning A Baby Calf Off Its Mother. Chuck tells of fresh cows (recently calved cows) and of teaching the calves to drink from a bucket.
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Love At First Sight

By Chuck Hinman

Weaning A Baby Calf Off Its Mother

I can hear you saying "Doing What to a What?"

In writing my memories recently, I remembered, as a little kid growing up on a Nebraska farm, weaning baby calves of dependence on the mother cow for food. A calf would still be nursing its mother as a teenager if you didn't wean it.

Feeding a baby calf

That was one of my chores -- feeding the baby calves from a bucket so we could start getting milk production from the mother cow.

Follow me to the Hinman barn and I'll show you how to wean a baby calf.

Calf nurses its mother for several weeks

We let the baby calf nurse its mother for several weeks to get the calf off to a good start. Besides that, the milk from a fresh cow contains traces of blood for a couple weeks and is not ready for human consumption.

When Dad decided we could start using the milk from a fresh cow, we put the baby calf in a holding pen on the west side of the milk barn. It wasn't unusual to have two or three calves in this pen at one time. They stayed there until they were weaned and ready to run with the herd.

How to get a baby calf to drink from a bucket

Dad taught us boys at an early age how to get a baby calf to drink from a bucket. In my early days a calf was almost as big as me. But I gritted my teeth and enjoyed the challenge. A baby calf is foxy and so cute. I carried a bucket partially filled with its mother's milk and cornered the calf in the pen to keep it from running from me. Then I stuck my index and 3rd fingers in its toothless mouth pulling its mouth into the milk in the bucket hoping when the little critter was sucking away on my fingers that it would be fooled into thinking -- "Cool -- this little guy has mamma's milk coming out his fingers!" It wasn't long until it didn't need my fingers to get it interested in the milk in the bucket.

When I first started weaning calves I couldn't get used to the baby calf just going wild over my two small fingers and I would giggle so hard at the sensation that I couldn't continue!

Feeding calves became just one of many chores

By the time I was a teenager, feeding the baby calves was just one part of the many chores of a Nebraska farm boy.

Any questions? Would you like to try your luck at teaching a baby calf to drink from a bucket? A warning, you won't pass if you're squeamish about the calf nursing your fingers!

Get along little doggies!

- Written by Chuck Hinman, 5 January 2008

This story was posted on 2014-06-01 04:48:55
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