Stimulating a Calf's Appetite : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have been raising organic beef cattle for many years, and have never had this problem before; thought perhaps someone had some ideas. I rarely grain my cattle but I separated a 9 month old steer because he looks very thin, so I could give him some TLC. Can't get him to eat grain! He just stares at it and walks away. Eats his hay allright. I wonder if there is some natural way to get him to eat it;maybe something to stimulate his appetite. Any ideas will be apprecitated. Thanks..

-- (, November 07, 2000


I've never had to start a calf that old on grain for the first time. I know I've had to literally open the mouth of a weanling and place some in there, on the tongue. They usually spit it out like they are being poisoned, then go to it within a day or so. You also might try Probios, a vitamin and mineral product in a tube. It would give him a boost and also is supposed to stimulate the appetite. It may just take awhile. I am trying to convert a milking doe to a new grain supplement and she is turning her nose up, but I know she will come around in a few days. They always do.

-- melina b. (, November 07, 2000.

Never heard of this problem before. You might try stirring some molasses over you grain to sweeten it. If nothing else works, and if you have a milk cow, you might try soaking some grain in milk and try feeding it that way. I know a dairyman would cringe thinking about encouraging a young steer to go back on milk, but if I had a thin animal and milk available I'd give it a try.

-- Anne Tower (, November 07, 2000.

Ijust read a interesting artical which said beef raised on grass was healthyer. Some thing about grain changing the acidity of the stomach so e colie grew much better.More reason for home grown!

-- kathy h (, November 07, 2000.

Hi Eartmomma, try adding any of the following to his grain one at a time: cider vinegar 1/2 ounce or so, chopped up apple or carrot, kelp powder tablespoon or two, garlic powder teaspoon or so, a sprinkle of salt, or if all else fails, chop up a good bit of really fine, excellent quality hay, and mix his grain in it, offer it as the day's ration. What kind of grain are you offering? Most animals relish a sweet type feed made for horses, you could try a little to get him used to eating grain, then switch back to your grain. Diamond V yeast culture is an excellent appetite stimulant once you can get him to eat a concentrate to mix it in, and would get him back into good condition quickly. Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (, November 07, 2000.

Earthmomma, I forgot to mention the most obvious question, are the other cattle doing OK, or are they looking a little poor? If all could use a some weight, then it is most likely your hay/pasture quality is lacking. Have it tested, usually 8 dollars at the extension office, if it doesn't test out at least 8% protein, and adequate TDN, then no amount of hay is going to keep any of them in condition once winter comes. They will not be able to eat enough to satisfy their requirements even if they stand all day and eat hay. We lose a lot of cattle here in the county because folks think if they got enough hay, they will be fine. Frustrates the local vet to no end! If the hay checks out OK, and the rest of the cattle are doing well, it is probably worms. DE and other organic wormers only work where they come in contact with in the digestive tract, missing completely the lung worms, heart worms, and the others that live in the skin and muscle tissue, ivertectin and similar systemic wormers, are the only way to eliminate most worms (you never get them all) to an acceptable level for good health. Hope this helps! Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (, November 08, 2000.

We taught mustangs to eat grain by pouring a little on top of their hay -- when they ate hay, they also got a mouthful of grain. It didn't take long before they would come for a rattled coffee-can full, just like the rest of the critters!

-- Kathleen Sanderson in NH (, November 08, 2000.

I don't think this is anything really unusual. I had a Brahman bull who would spit out range cubes, but would probably follow you to Waverly if you were carrying a head of cabbage (long story). As the others noted, try putting some on his hay so it acquires the taste.

If you feed a prepared mix, such as sweet feed, can you still call it organic beef?

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, November 09, 2000.

Try a few shots of vitiam B 12, sure works on horses for the finicky eaters.

-- jay vance (, November 09, 2000.

How about Purina Calf Mana? I would give it to my goat babies (and ladies) in small measured amounts; it slicked their coats right up, and they seemed to relish the taste. It smelled kinda like lichorish, or fennel. It has milk in it, and is high in protien. I wonder if grain has upset his tummy; maybe offer baking soda, free choice, like you would goats?

-- Leann Banta (, November 09, 2000.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions! Ken,my grain mix is certified organic; I use very little of it as a rule; Kathy H: yes, grass-fed meat is absolutely more healthy! REad WHY GRASS FED IS BEST by Jo Robinson; Annie: I cannot use chemical wormers, my livelihood, and my reputation (and my conscience) depend on natural controls only. Ive never had a problem with parasites in 12 years of doing this; I use garlic, DE and Basic H soap regularly. The other calves look fine.My grain mix has molasses in it btw.

-- Earthmama (, November 09, 2000.

Earthmama, this is a bit late, probably, but any time we have an animal which only will eat forage (we milk 40 head of Ayrshires), we immediately think "DA" or displaced abomasum (twisted stomach). Somehow, they seem to know that the roughage is the best thing for them, and will refuse all concentrates, or just nibble. An animal with a twist, but not a complete torsion can live for quite awhile, but will lose weight, look gaunt and rough, and will eventually die unless it corrects itself. It's more common in high producing dairy cattle fed high levels of concentrates, but can happen in any cow. A severely twisted stomach will make them so obviously sick that you wouldn't have any questions about getting a vet out, so it's the "chronic" case which is almost more dangerous. Vit B shots DO help appetite, but if something doesn't help soon, I'd consult a vet. Linda Graves

-- Linda Graves (, November 12, 2000.

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