Cow milk replacer lesson

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We brought our bottle fed calves home about three weeks ago.  They were very skinny to start.  The lady who sold them told us several times to not overfeed them.  “It’s hard to starve a cow to death, it’s easy to kill them with scours”.  She showed us how much milk replacer she gave.  She told us to feed them twice a day.  All our resources also said to feed them twice a day.  The first week we gave the amount she recommended (about 4 ounces milk replacer diluted in 4 pints).  They seemed oh so skinny so we gradually increased the amount to 8 ounces twice a day, which is what the bag tells you to do.  These bony guys still have struggled to gain weight.  Finally, this week we called the vet out to check on our skinny and progressively lethargic cows.

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We had bought this mik replacer at Tractor Supply.  It says “Premium”.  It says “For calves 2-60 days”.  It says “Optimal growth”.  It says “Milk Replacer with All Milk Proteins”.  Turns out, it is junk.  Junk.  It should be “100% milk proteins”.  We had no idea we were starving our cows these past few weeks.  The vet gave them some minerals and vitamins and they immediately perked up.  She recommended we feed three times a day for now to help fatten them up.  So we went and purchased the proper milk replacer.  I’m kinda upset with Tractor Supply.  Why would you put this product on the shelf?  There were a few different options and we picked one, not knowing the difference between “with milk protein” and “100% milk protein” could mean life or death.

Have we mentioned farming isn’t easy?  We continue to learn everyday it seems.  We hope to continue to share our experiences so that other homesteaders/future farmers can learn from our mistakes.