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Buying calves

  • 22-02-2023 10:45pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 42


    Considering buying a few calves, maybe 5 or 6 weeks old as my son has me plagued for some. It would be a new venture for us as we only keep ~ 25 bullocks for the 7 months every year. I have a shed which is ideal and know what's involved (I think!) But slightly concerned about scour and other problems in young calves.

    Is this a stupid move for someone who has zero experience with calves? I don't particularly want to bring more work on myself but trying to encourage my sons interest in the farm and so think it would be good for this reason..

    All opinions appreciated. Thanks



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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,509 ✭✭✭50HX


    Buy 2 out of the one farm to start with this year

    3 weeks old+ if you can, find out if they are on whole milk or milk replacer, if milk replacer keep it the same

    Start him on them 2 & see will he develop a like for it can up numbers then nxt year



  • Registered Users Posts: 11,009 ✭✭✭✭Base price


    It's more difficult to source 5 to 6 week old calves at this time of the year as the majority of dairy farmers have only started to calf in the last two to three weeks. As 50HX suggested above I would go with a couple of calves and see what interest your young lad has in rearing them.



  • Registered Users Posts: 42 garlic bread


    Thanks, that's probably a better idea to with only a couple to start. A neighbour sells calves every year so will approach him. What money are 3-4 week old calves making this year?



  • Registered Users Posts: 42 garlic bread


    Thanks, will try that and see how we get on with a couple this year. Can always go bigger next year if the interest is there.



  • Registered Users Posts: 11,009 ✭✭✭✭Base price


    If you buy calves from a farmer ask her/him what type of CMR they use to feed them. Most dairy farmers will give you enough CMR powder to feed the calves for two to three feeds whilst they transition onto the CMR that you buy locally. Don't skimp on straw bedding especially for young calves - the deeper the straw the safer the calf.

    If you're not used to buying sucks then take your time to look at each individual calf - watch out for swelled navels, drooped ears, snotty noses etc or ask an experience neighbour for guidance.

    Post edited by Base price on


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,098 ✭✭✭Good loser


    Get a friend to buy them. Decide first on breed and sex. Get five anyway. Fr bulls should be got at €50, near a month old.



  • Registered Users Posts: 11,009 ✭✭✭✭Base price




  • Registered Users Posts: 7,900 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey


    I wouldn't buy any with spray markings on them. It's a sign that they might have received treatment for some illness.



  • Registered Users Posts: 20,989 ✭✭✭✭Water John


    Buy direct from a farmer you trust. There should be HEX and AAX and others available in a months time. Make sure there's no JE in the breeding.



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,121 ✭✭✭screamer


    If you’re only buying them I’d actually buy 2 beef breeds rather than dairy. Angus are docile enough we find and they don’t grow huge, so kids are happy enough around them. It’s amazing to see how much rearing a few calves and helping out around the place teaches kids, life skills that no screen or computer game can.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 823 ✭✭✭Stationmaster


    How long do you leave them on milk replacer for and have they to be kept indoors fulltime for next few weeks/months? Thinking of doing the same with my kids here - just buying 3/4 max. Have sucklers already.



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,900 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey


    @Stationmaster - think the advice is to keep them on milk until they are eating 1kg of calf crush per day consistently. Usually that will be at the 2months old mark.


    Teagasc has some good advice on this:



    I think this is the full manual:




  • Registered Users Posts: 1,154 ✭✭✭monseiur


    If your young lad has some savings make a deal with him that if he buys two you'll buy another two and all profits from eventual sale of all four will end up in his bank account. Once he has a financial interest/investment it may keep his interest over the summer and not just for the first week or two after which the novelty may wear off. Whether he ends up with a profit or loss the actual experience/responsibility at his age is priceless and will get him away from staring at that little screen continuously😁 (if he's anything like some young lads I know!)



  • Registered Users Posts: 17,932 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves


    If you are starting off I would not worry what I buy. At present starting off I would buy Friesians. You will buy a decent calf 3+ weeks old for sub 70-80 euro. A HE or AA same age will cost 3-4 times that.

    I would not be afraid if buying in a mart. Vaccinate them as early as possible and make sure to dehorn them.

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,276 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath


    If you are buying cattle every year for 7 months maybe buy something that will match in with them, in that if you feed Angus bullocks for 7 months buy Angus bull calves as I assume you will be keep them for the winter and then sell back end of 2024. As said above if there is a farmer you know selling calves then buy from them as less chance of picking up bugs if they haven't been in a mart. Try an buy strong for their age square calves, (avoid anything with JE breeding in them as they will only disappoint you). Keep a small bit of fresh meal on offer to them once they are over 3 weeks and increases quantity as they eat it. Keep a good bed under them and nice fresh hay. If you have a nice sheltered paddock you could let them out into it on fine days to pick at grass and then after a few days you could leave them out altogether.



  • Registered Users Posts: 20,989 ✭✭✭✭Water John


    I wouldn't buy a Fr X Je. The young fella needs animals he can take pride in.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,745 ✭✭✭Jjameson


    buy friesian calves with that are wide at the shoulder, as everyone says avoid jersey, simple enough as they aren’t as prominent as they appear, it’s too much extreme holstein you need to avoid mostly. Buy calves at least 3 weeks old, The calf needs a wide shoulder. Look for beefy rather than lanky. A farmers yard is definitely preferable to the mart.



  • Registered Users Posts: 42 garlic bread


    Yes this is exactly the situation with my son, he has a couple of hundred euro saved and it's a good investment and will hopefully develop his interest in the farm. And of course keep him busy and off screens as you say 😏



  • Registered Users Posts: 42 garlic bread


    Ok that is cheaper than I thought, good to know. I have already asked a neighbour casually and will probably pick a few good looking Friesians there.



  • Registered Users Posts: 42 garlic bread


    It was all Angus we had last year, only 25 bullocks and they did v well over the summer. Presumably though any calves we'd buy would have to be kept separate from this year's bullocks which I'll be buying over the next few weeks. I had planned on keeping the calves in one field near the yard once they are old enough to leave the shed, but separate to bullocks.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 42 garlic bread


    Agree re the life skills, my lads have learned a lot from doing the few bits and pieces on the farm. It's so good for kids to be out and in nature in addition to cultivating an interest in the farm for the future.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,276 ✭✭✭Anto_Meath


    @garlic bread yes keep them separate from your bullocks. As you will need to keep giving the calves about 1.5kgs of meal a day for the summer when the are finished milk but on grass. I mix rolled oats with the meal (calf / weanling crunch) as I find it keeps them in good form. 1 part oats to 3 parts crunch. Move the calves regularly to fresh grass, not new grass or after grass that will run through them. You might need divide up the field with electric fences. Are you planning on wintering them or sell next backend?



  • Registered Users Posts: 42 garlic bread


    Thanks for advice. Planning on keeping next winter. Have slatted shed that I haven't used yet as easing into farming (working full time also altho wfh now so have more time than used to).



  • Registered Users Posts: 823 ✭✭✭Stationmaster


    Just thinking out loud but you know the way lambs are ringed when only a few days old - why isn't/can't this be done with calves??



  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 1,863 Mod ✭✭✭✭Albert Johnson


    You can do it but it's not that prevalent. Ringing them at a young age prevents testosterone from having any impact on the animal. This can make them very feminine in appearance and only for the naval you'd mistake them for a heifer due to the fact they've no bag like an animal castrated with a burrdizo. There's probably a school of thought that the lack of testosterone limits there thrive in early life but castration at a later age causes a temporary setback in thrive so there probably isn't much difference over the life time of the animal.



  • Registered Users Posts: 28,788 ✭✭✭✭whelan2


    Isn't it illegal to Dock cow's tails, so I'd assume calves would be the same?



  • Registered Users Posts: 17,932 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves


    He suggesting using the rings to castrate at a young age. Lambs tails ate docked to lessen the impact of maggots that is not an issue with bovines

    From a stock management point of view using rubber ring on calf to castrate at a young age would ma.nagment easier. You could carry out the function in a dehorning crate. AFAIK testosterone will not be a factor in growth until the animal is 6ish months(250+kgs) similar to a heifer not having the ability to get incall at a certain age.

    Definitely if rearing substantial numbers I would consider it

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 17,932 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves


    Just one other think is to make sure both testes are fully down. It's important with lambs as well

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,570 ✭✭✭✭patsy_mccabe


    Trying to figure out how to mix up milk powder for a younger relative this morning. Instructions say to mix 125g of the powder to 1 litre of water.


    Maybe a stupid question but if you add the 125g of powder to 1 litre of water, do you end up with more than a litre of milk?

    He adds the hot water after mixing in the powder to cold water.

    'The Bishops blessed the Blueshirts in Galway, As they sailed beneath the Swastika to Spain'



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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,009 ✭✭✭✭Base price


    Most cmr is mixed at 125g of powder to 875ml of warm water to make 1 litre at the start but the milk powder can be increased as the calves get older. When you add the powder it will cool the water so ensure that the warm water is at the correct temperature as per the manufacturer before mixing. The mixed cmr should be no warmer that 37c but each manufacturer has different instructions.



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