Palaver from Persimmon Crossingwith Warren Faulk
BOTTLE FEEDINGWe are no strangers to orphaned animals. When animals are your hobby for as long as they have been for us it's just part of the package. And once you get the hang of it, hand or bottlefeeding is possibly the best way to train and bond with a wide variety of "pets".
One of our efforts involved a seven day old pigeon, offspring of a pair of hardy solid red birds that we raised just for the pleasure of watching them fly. The bird we came to call 205 (that was his leg band number) lost both parents to hawks when he was just in pin feathers. You may know that pigeons partially digest food and pump it mouth to mouth into their babies from day one until they are five or six weeks old and flying. Two-O-Five was going to need some help. My wife fed him human baby rice cereal with an eyedropper until he was able to eat on his own. By that time he was as tame as tame can be. In your face, on your shoulder and picking your pockets. When we went for show and tell at church or library he would be the hit of the program simply because he was so friendly. He raised many babies with his three or four wives before he was lost , probably to a predator. We still have several red birds around and they are all known as 205's bunch.
We have raised two goats on bottles, one that was an orphan and one that we intentionally took from its mother in an attempt to insure it would be tame. Both were and are house cat tame. They would rather rub your leg than anything else. For them we go to the feed store and buy a 25 pound bag of calf milk replacer for about a dollar a pound dry. This is mixed in accordance with the instructions on the bag with warm water and fed four, then three and then two times a day in quantities appropriate to the size animal being dealt with, until of weaning age.
Of course they should have dry hay from day one and believe it or not within a very few days they will be eating it. But the milk will be necessary for several weeks. Use a human baby bottle. Put a 1/4" X in the nipple. Feed sparingly until you get the hang of it. If you observe diarrea, you might do well to switch to Gator Ade or Resorb for a couple days.
Then we hit the big time . Many years ago I bottle raised a Guernsey steer and really messed up. This one liked to tussle, so I tussled with him. At 50 pounds it was just fun, at 300 pounds he was sold for slaughter. You could not get near him without getting the daylights knocked out of you. It was all in fun of course, but bruises are bruises.
When we decided to get a longhorn to raise, rule number one was no "horseplay" of any kind. Duke, now aged three, has been carting our Grandkids around since he was 3 months old. We got him pretty much by accident. I had had my name in the pot with a local breeder for a couple years but he never could raise enough to supply his regular buyers and provide us one as well.
Then one day a call came in. He had carted several cows into North Florida, some to sell and one to butcher for the pelt and horns. This old girl was way past her prime and had missed on her last scheduled trip to the bull. She was unloaded at the slaughter pen and dropped a bull calf on the spot. Somehow she had gotten bred without anyone being aware.
Duke was delivered to us a few days later and was raised on a bottle, a big bottle with a big nipple like they sell at the feed store. We fed him through the fence to cut down on the tendency to roughhouse. At all other times we went in the pen and handled him as much as we possibly could. He has been a real pushover. We have a ring in his nose (feed store item easily installed at home) for complete control, but he really craves handling and even seems to like pulling a cart and being ridden. We have a harness racing sulkey for a cart.
We now are one year into training an Irish Dexter Miniature steer, also one of our bottle baby successes. He looks like a tiny Angus. Both of these bad boys wear costumes appropriate to the holiday. Christmas wreaths with battery powered flashing lights, Easter bonnets with flowers, flags and firecrackers on the 4th of July, etc. We even had our own parade on the 4th this year. I led Duke with a Grandchild up. He was followed by our billy goat who marched in line with no control and he in turn was followed by our turkey, Jim, also on auto-pilot. Jim is our band. He gobbles about every third step. Duke has friends in Brussells and Baton Rouge.
I have concluded that cows are sorely overlooked as pets. There have long been rodeo cows. Not many have recently made a pleasure mount out of one. We have done it twice now and it is much easier than working with a horse in my opinion. We know of a rodeo act that ropes horses from longhorns under saddle. This same family also breaks Brahma cattle to ride. If you dig deep enough you will find someone using the term "sporting cattle".
Our next calf will probably be Corriente. This is your basic natural cow, sprung from Spanish stock on the Western ranges and little influenced by other breeds. They are small, athletic and have very strong horns. Best of all they are mild tempered. These are the stock valued in the rodeo trade as roping and bulldogging event animals, not the heavy bulls you see bouncing cowboys around. So if you are in the market for a little different kind of pony, the makin's might be as near as your local dairy farmer. His cattle will birth 50% bulls, which are easy to turn into steers, sell for maybe $50 at 3 days of age and he doesn't need any of them. At that age they weigh about 50 pounds and you can carry them in your car. By now the term oxen will have crossed your mind. The term applies, but ole Blue probably never had his own taillights.
-- Warren Faulk
Share your reactions with your fellow readers at The Progress Report:
Page One Page Two Archive Discussion Room Letters What's Geoism?