How to Raise a Cow or Calf
- 1). Prepare the place where you will keep your calf by cleaning all debris and sharp objects from the area. Do not turn it out to pasture right away; it will need some time to adjust to being on its own in a new place. If the calf has just been weaned, it will try to get out to get back to its mother.
- 2). Build the pen high enough so the calf cannot jump over it--at least 5 feet. Use sturdy wood posts and set them 8 to 10 feet apart. Use poles, boards, wood or metal panels, or strong woven-wire netting as fencing between the posts. Do not use electric fence to create the pen: the calf or you could easily get electrocuted when you are working with it.
- 3). Clear all baling twine, plastic and stray garbage from the pen area regularly. Calves are very curious and often get into trouble.
- 4). Keep the pen dry. Be sure there is good drainage by using sand or fine stone beneath the straw.
- 5). Use this pen to give your calf its medications, treat any injuries or train it to lead.
- 1). Supplement your calf's grain and hay with time grazing in the pasture. Practice rotational grazing to give your pasture time to recover and grow. Divide the pasture into two or three portions and graze the calf on them sequentially.
- 2). Build a secure fence around the pasture with posts and wire fence, net wire fence with one barbed wire on top, or an electric fence. The fence should be very tight and inspected regularly to ensure that it will hold the calf.
- 3). Replace any broken posts or missing insulators, and trim brush and grass away from the fence area.
- 4). Check the pasture regularly for objects that may have blown in. Pop cans, bottles, plastic and other debris can be dangerous to your calf.
- 5). Place a water tank in the pasture. Keep the water clean by changing it routinely. At times, such as after a storm, change the water more often.
Halters and Ropes
- 1). Purchase a good rope halter and lead for restraining your calf.
- 2). Familiarize your calf with the halter when it is very young. Place the halter on the calf. Be sure that the adjustable side of the halter is on the left. When you pull the halter tight, the pressure should be mostly on the rope under the chin, rather than behind the ears.
- 3). Practice walking the calf with the halter and lead. You will lead it from the left side, with its head at your shoulders.
- 4). Learn to properly tie a quick-release knot for tying your calf to a fence post. The quick-release knot has the advantage of being easily untied even after it has been pulled tight, as will happen if your calf pulls back on the rope.
- 5). Bathe the calf regularly to accustom it to the water and being brushed.
Feed and Water
- 1). Place a tub or tank in one corner of the calf's pen, away from the feed box. Set it up off the ground no higher than 20 inches. If the tub is placed directly on the ground, the calf may step on it or knock it over. Fill it with fresh water twice a day.
- 2). Keep the water available for the calf even in the winter. Either break the ice out without creating a crack, or use a submersible water heater. If a heater is used, be sure that the cord and heater are protected from a misbehaving calf.
- 3). Place hay in a feed rack or manger to ensure that the majority of the hay is eaten and not trampled or wasted. If the hay is muddy or soiled, the calf won't eat it.
- 4). Check the hay before feeding it to the calf. Hay that has become moldy can make your calf sick. Keep all hay in a dry storage area.
- 5). Place a sturdy grain box next to the hay area. It should be mounted off the ground so the calf won't step in it.
- 6). Clean out any leftover kernels of feed before adding new grain to the box.
- 7). Provide the calf with a salt and mineral block. Place these in the hay manger or feed box to keep them clean.
- 8). Feed the calf "milk replacer" until it is 8 weeks old. Mix the replacer with warm water and place in bottle or nipple bucket.
- 9). Feed the calf "starter" feed from 8 weeks to 4 months. One cup of grain is enough to start the calf at 8 weeks. Gradually build up to 2 lbs. by 4 months of age.
Feed the calf a growing ration from 4 to 12 months. According to the National Research Council, a growing ration should contain at least 15 to 18 percent protein.