Ok, so far it’s just cute pictures and I promised you an adventure, or at least a quick tutorial. So Norman pulled up the other day and when he has something for me he always says ‘Where are you? Well, I’m right outside…’. I glanced at Laura who took a nano-second to guage the look and said ‘No, nothing, just no. We can’t have whatever whoever it is has, especially if it’s Norman.’ I took that in the good hubris that I’m sure was meant and came back in five minutes later with two Jersey bull calves. Really, I did – we could’ve had three.
So these bull calves really have no value – they go for $20 each at the auction and are made into peperoni that day. Yes, each time you bite into that tasty spicy sausage you are committing bovicide. Infantibovicide, in fact. Whatever, it’s one of these cute fellas with a few secret spices wrapped in a sheeps intestine. Yum.
The economics behind buying one these guys to fatten into next years hamburger are shakey, but here goes: you can buy a bona fide beef calf for $250, put $400 of feed into it and have $650 worth of beef in the end, or you could buy one of these chums for $25, put $400 of feed into it and have $425 of beef. If you’re not keeping them for breeding and improving your flock then it’s all the same. More mince, less steak but less money upfront… less at stake if you’ll pardon the pun.
Anyways, you can’t just give them a bucket of grain and say ‘grow some’. Like any babies, they need milk. And like any babies they like to drink it straight from the tit, however dairy calves are generally separated from the momma cow once they’ve had their colostrum, about four hours after birth. They then either go onto a nurse cow (rare), are straight up culled, sold at the auction or are raised on bottles, or in my case buckets. How to get them to switch from an ergonomically pleasant nipple to a supersized serving in a bucket? It’s easy – your fingers are strikingly similar to a cows nipple and the calf will gladly suck on them if they’re hungry, so all you do is take your wedding ring off, insert surrogate nipple into calves mouth, lower said nipple (now with calves head attached) into bucket of warm milk (or milk replacer) and voila, after 2 or 3 goes it realises that it doesn’t need momma anymore, much like a university freshman it can drink all it likes in one go without anyone telling it not to, and it does. Two litres of milk gone in a minute.
Unless of course you have one that is wary of sucking a strange thing that is obviously not a nipple and attached to an even stranger thing wearing a large yellow rainjacket and a wide brimmed hat, desperately leaning towards you with a weird round black thing full of sloshy white stuff, then of course you just do everything to kind of avoid it, at all costs.
In this case I grabbed the naughty little thing, pinned it gently with a Judo move, stuck my fingers down it’s throat until it thought ‘oh, hang on, this might be a nipple’ then dunked said fingers into said bucket of luke warm milk. Slurp slurp slurp, these calves could suck the chrome off a ballhitch.
Apparently a few days of doing this and they’ll be jostling to get their heads in the bucket before you’ve even tied it to their stall.
Here’s some cute pics…