A Cowboy’s Faith: Babies must have milk – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Babies must have milk

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The kitchen has been turned into a calf milk factory.”

At least that’s the way it seems in recent days as calf nursing bottles are being filled with milk replacer.

Sometimes as many as a handful of babies have been in the barn during the past week cold and hungry.

A couple calves are a twin that their momma only accepted the mate. Others their moms wouldn’t claim or the cow wasn’t supplying any or enough milk to keep their baby going.

So the hot water faucet and handled pan on the stove keep warm water supplied for mixing powdered milk. There are several two-quart plastic bottles with big nipples almost constantly circulating from the kitchen to the barn.

Of course if the newborns haven’t received a bit of first nutrition from their ignoring momma cows there’s “colostrum ration.” Never an “A” animal nutrition student, hands-on experience has taught importance of first-milk colostrum for newborns. When babies – calves or colts or pigs – don’t get that, they generally won’t survive or have a very difficult time.

Initially, those bitty babies don’t understand what that big nipple trying to be stuffed into their mouth is all about. Generally one time taste of that warm soothing nutritious liquid makes them want more. Yet, there are a few that require “bottle training,” but they soon learn it’s better than being hungry.

Before long the barnyard noise prevails with almost constant bellowing calves in the barn wanting their milk bottle. While there is a routine schedule for feeding each of the calves, someone always wants milk before it’s their time.

Most of the babies will only be bottle fed a day or two until put back on an accepting mother cow. That in itself is another major ordeal sometimes, as the cow must be forced to care for the young.

The extra twin calves are placed on cows that have lost their own babies at birth. Still without exception there is always a calf or two that don’t ever get a mother of their own. They drink from the bottle, soon going to the bucket and then hard feed, always an orphan.

Reminded of Hebrews 5:14: “Baby’s milk is for beginners; solid food is for the mature.” And, Judges 4:19: “She filled a bottle with milk, gave him a drink.”

030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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