A unique perspective from someone who knows what she is doing.
Modern day dairy farming has little to do with the way dairy farming was in the eighteen hundreds. The scale of today’s dairy farms is such that individual care and attention simply isn’t possible anymore. As a result a percentage of losses is taken for granted.
A lot of useful knowledge on how to raise and treat cattle “the old way” isn’t used anymore. I am not saying that we need to go back to the way farmers use to raise their cattle then, but there are several things that are still valid alternatives to today’s modern farming as is shown on http://matronofhusbandry.wordpress.com .
An exerpt from her website:
My bottle calves get bottle fed milk or milk replacer 4 x a day for a while, they are exposed to grass or hay immediately and they don’t get grain until they are older, if at all. No hay bellies here.
First old wives tale to dispense: hay bellies are not from eating hay, hay bellies are caused by not feeding milk long enough, and substituting the needed milk protein with grain protein. Western reductionist thinking at work here.
All proteins are not created equal, and each compartment of the cows digestive system works a little differently, and need to be developed while they are calves, or else you have adult cows that have digestive problems. Makes for a good veterinary bill, but really, a lot can be avoided with proper feeding that takes the cow into consideration instead of convenience and production. Basically if you want a cow that does well on forage, allow the calf forage. If you want a cow that needs grain to keep her condition acceptable, feed them grain at an early age.
If you see a calf with a pot belly, know that the calf has been very hungry for much of its early life. There are other signs too, a runty looking face with turned up nose, and rough coat of hair. Once you have seen a calf like this, you can spot them a mile off. And it isn’t always human fault, some beef cows don’t raise a good calf. The best fix in a beef herd is culling.
For a cow to be economically viable, it should re-breed within 60 days of calving, raise a good looking calf and keep her body condition up. I have seen beef cows that will re-breed, raise a crappy calf and get fat – that is not a cow you want. More about calf treatment and care you can find in my own article on this website.
A baby calf on its mother nurses frequently and tries to eat grass or hay immediately. The calf nurses warm milk and the milk goes to the abomasum where the milk fat and protein is digested before going on to the small intestine for nutrient absorption.
To simulate that, a bottle fed dairy calf should nurse with its head at least in a horizontal position so the esophageal groove will close and direct the milk to the abomasum instead of to the rumen where it can’t be utilized as well or not at all, in some cases. Nursing stimulates saliva production to help digest the milk proteins and fats.
Drinking milk from a bucket with the head down can result in the milk going to rumen instead and significantly less saliva production. It’s no wonder some calves scour, and don’t do well. Simplifying the feeding process to hurry it up gives them a tummy ache, and can shortchange them nutritionally too.
As you can see, this woman knows what she is talking about. More useful information you can find on her website. To learn more about different ingredients that can cure calf scours, go to: calf diarrhea home remedies.