Patricia Temples Photography

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Feeding the Calves

Today I made it to the farm in time to see the feeding of the forty calves.  At birth the calves are separated from their mother, and they are taught to drink milk from a bucket not long after.  Sometimes two fingers are put in the bucket of milk, and the calf sucks at them.

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Then the fingers are gradually lowered into the milk until the calf discovers it.  One calf I saw today was two weeks old and still hadn’t learned that, but most of them learn the first day.  The calves are separated into groups of eight and kept together in stalls based on their age.  As they get older, they are moved one stall to the right, until they get old enough to be released into the field to eat grass.  They are given about a quart of milk a day, sometimes with supplements, and grain is added as they become able to feed on something other than milk.

The fun of watching this was the introduction of the buckets to the young.  Each bucket was filled with an appropriate amount of the milk mixture, then two men each held  two buckets in each hand.  They walked the buckets up to the fence line, then on “Go” the buckets were placed on the ground in reach of the calves.  The babies were eager to eat and each had their own bucket, but if timing wasn’t right, there could have been a commotion.  It didn’t take long for them to finish their milk.  Afterwards, they licked each other’s mouths, “sucking face,” if you will, to get the milk leftovers.

One calf had a little gastrointestinal distress, and she had been lying in the stall alone. She was encouraged to get up and walk but would be put on cow’s milk if the problem didn’t correct itself soon.  Sometimes that’s the best solution for a calf. Supplements will help, too.  The care that is given to these calves, and in fact, to all the animals, takes time and patience, and people who love animals.  These animals are very lucky.

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2 thoughts on “Feeding the Calves

  1. Pat, these photos are wonderful. What a great experience for you. Thanks, Suye

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