New male calf have questions

Judsonia, AR(Zone 7b)

I bought a male calf the other day. he's 80 pounds 8 days old. I want to raise him for the freezer. Question is.

Does he need to be cut/banded if I"m going to have him slaughtered at 8 to 900 pounds?

The folks that sold him to me, have slaughtered one in the past and had not been castrated and the meat was fine but they slaughtered at 800 pounds there abouts.


Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

It don't bother the meat at all, but he will be way safer as a steer instead of a bull.

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

A lot depends on how close other cattle are. He might get interested in nearby ladies when they come into heat, and take your fence with him when he goes. On the other hand, the meat from a bull calf might be leaner than that from a steer. Hmmm, 8 days old, is he a bottle or bucket baby?

Judsonia, AR(Zone 7b)

he's a bottle baby, I have a heifer calf in there with him and she's about 50 pounds and sucks that bottle twice as fast as he does LOL.

I only have one heifer l3months old and the heifer calf that was born on valentines day.

I am going to borrow a bull for the l3 mnth old whenshe's a little older. I don't think the bull calf (elvis is his name ) LOL will be old enough to worry about it.

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

just a note about male calves and how ready they are. When I was a kid, we and the neighbor across the road both raised registered holsteins, the guy up over the hill had a scrub herd of mixed unknowns. He was raising a bull calf, born in the spring. In August, when the bull was in the 4 to 5 month old range, the neighbor across the road had one of his best cows come into heat. You guessed it. The scrub bull, who was 1/2 her size, bred her. The neighbor was one unhappy farmer.

Judsonia, AR(Zone 7b)

LOL, that's too funny.

Humansville, MO(Zone 6a)

I think I'd rather have that than have the neighbors holstein bull get in with the first heat milking short horn heifers that was a long summer we lost just one calf

Benton, KS(Zone 6a)

I've also seen the young bulls try to jump fences they couldn't safely get over....broke a leg...not fun. You might want to make that one a steer....

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

I'm hoping that someone here can offer advice on my new addition. When we went out to feed the cows this morning, we found that 7 had become 8. This was very unexpected, as when she came, we were told that IF she were pregnant, she would deliver at the end of January. Apparently no-one told her. Now we've got one cow, her new baby (unknown) her last years heifer, and 5 steers. Do they need to be kept apart? When do we castrate, if he's a male? Any and all advice welcome....

La Grange, TX(Zone 8b)

It would depend on what you plan to do with the little bull calf. We sell out bull calves at about 5 - 6 months of age so we don't castrate ours even though that means a slight penalty at the auction barn. This just means another vet bill for us. It costs more to castrate. If you plan to keep him longer than that, it is safer for you if you castrate. I've been keeping data on our cattle including due date according to the vet and the actual birth date. Palpating the cow is more accurate if she's less than 90 days pregnant. It's also difficult to tell from looks. We've had cows who barely look pregnant give birth surprising the heck out of us and had cows waddle arround for what seems like months before giving birth.

Judsonia, AR(Zone 7b)

WE had our friend band our male calf for us. it was easy enough and the calf didn't feel anypain,

He made sure he got both testicles inside the band.

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

Thanks Bettydee,
We don't know yet what we will do, but some of that depends on him:). We do want to castrate. We had no idea when/if she was bred, so the guess was all we had. She waddled for months. We really did expect one in January, but then figured she was just, well, round! The problem is that she is not approachable, and I don't think there's a fence here that will hold Lucy if we try to even "borrow" her baby :(

When should he be castrated? When should he be eating grass/grain?

kathy_ann, Banding is my choice, but we'll see what we can find out.

Thank you both for your help, and I would appreciate any more thoughts you might have.

La Grange, TX(Zone 8b)

Castrate as soon as possible. A good link:

Calves can't digest grass or grain until they are about 3 months.

Chickamauga, GA(Zone 7a)

Your heifer may not have enough milk since the baby was unexpected. The calf should be full of life and growing like a weed. There are starter feeds for baby calves at any feed store. Not grower, starter. There feeds are easily digested and are made for very young dairy calves. It wouldn't hurt mamma to eat a little too if she is small and trying to feed the calf. Feed in a pan on the ground and baby will find it quickly. If he's hungry, he'll start eating with her. When he gets comfortable, two people can jump him and band him quickly. Mamma probably won't mind if she has feed. It's okay to band in the summer, but not castrate with a knife because of blow flys. If you know any FFA boys, they love this kind of action!!!

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

Thanks jazzyl,
This is her third or fourth calf, we don't know for sure, but she has this down pat:). She is very protective of the calf, but getting a bit better. The FFA suggestion is a good one, I'll ask around (we're new here). He is running and bouncing nicely, and fun to watch. We'll check into the starter feed, thanks for the tip!

southeast, NE

Hi Margo,

Been awhile since I've checked in here. Congratulations on your new addition. Jazzl gives good suggestions. We offer starter to our calves at about 4 weeks of age. We have a special feeder that only the calves can get into and is too small for the cows to get too. They also nibble on the hay we give to the cows.

When trying to find someone to band your calf, just make sure they are experienced.

Benton, KS(Zone 6a)

we used to separate the calf from the mom the morning after it was born to tag and band. they'd be in the barn and we'd move the momma thru the gate and close it behind her. she'd be close but not enough to get to us then we'd put the calf thru the same gate when we were done. Most times those older mommas will be ok....sometimes you get one that's not but if you're quick they're reunited quickly and it's not a big deal

Chickamauga, GA(Zone 7a)

I wouldn't castrate until fly season is over. He won't be interested until puberty-4-5 months at the earliest. If castrating now, band and have a good fly spray and check scrotum daily for fly strike. To make good beef, the calf needs grain daily. Meat will be tender but not full flavored at 800 pounds (baby beef). The best beef would be to fatten the calf for several months past full grown (breed dependent). For most commercial beef, that weight is 1000 - 1200 pounds. His back bone should start to look rounded instead of angular, and the covering over his ribs should look padded. The twitch between his back legs should start to fill with fat and not be so clearly defined. It doesn't take a lot of feed to raise this calf but he does need feed daily. Lush grass will help him grow faster. The poorer quality the grass/hay he eats, the more grain he needs. He needs to be gaining continuously.

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

Just an update on my baby bull :). Well, sometimes procrastination pays off. He never did get castrated. We just sold Spam (the bull). He is going to live on thirty acres with his very own herd. I'm so pleased....

Brunswick, GA

As a former Agri-Science teacher and Vet med student I suggest you call your local high school and ask to talk to the Ag teacher. He/she will know the boys or GIRLS (yeah girls were allowed into the FFA starting back in 1969 folks!) who have experience with cattle that could come out to your farm-- maybe even with a head gate to put mama in while the calf is castrated. Personally I prefer the Burdizzio or cutting. see

Every year my ag students got to see first hand the 3 most popular ways to castrate demonstrated on our school animals. It was amazing how many people think that the elasterator (banding) is "painless" compared to the Burdizzio or cutting. When you do several animals all at the same time and can compare their initial reaction and reactions for hourly intervals for the first day then every 6 hours the next day and 12 hours for the next week, students had a real rude awakening. Yeah slipping the band on may not hurt much, but wow even a half an hour later especially if you compare the methods on an animal like sheep and goats (they tend to react more to lesser pain stimulus-- don't belive me-- flick a cow with a whip and then do the same to a goat with one and watch) is very revealing

No matter which method you use, the younger the better as long as both testicles have descended into the scrotum. The younger animals always had faster recovery times no matter which method was used. If you decide to cut besure to use fly repellants during fly season and animals must be in a CLEAN area-- good pasture-- not MUD!


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