In the West and North of France, where the breed is less known, the Montbeliarde calf is considered to be « difficult to get to drink » in the beginning of its life. It is actually the bucket that is not their cup of tea! Their great need to suckle requires use of a nipple the first days. What better way than some experience from breeders who found the trick.
Christiane Gaillez, Etreoungt (59) – 25 heifers a year, including 60% of Montbeliarde breed.
Before the arrival of the Montbeliarde breed in 2010, Prim’Holstein calves were put to the bucket since their birth. I quickly realized that Montbeliarde calves liked nipples. They drink from a bottle until they are 4 to 10 days old. I test them with bucket and nipple and it is very rare that they don’t choose the nipple. Then they gradually drink directly from the bucket. Be careful not to be stubborn if the calf refuses to drink, not to force it to. It will be thirsty on the next feeding. I had a different relation with Montbeliarde calves which are more of a suspicious nature. Its trust must be earned, you must be patient and more gentle… Yes, breeding calves is a real job!
Lydie Domont, Sigy-en-Bray (76) – 25 heifers bred per year, including 90% of Montbeliarde breed
We began with the Montbeliarde breed in 2010 and I had no particular problem with the calves. Visiting the Doubs, we had noticed that calves drank very often from the bottle. At our farm, they stay with the mother about a day. I take them away in the morning and I only give them a bottled meal on the next morning. During the second day, I set up a nipple individual bucket (Milk-bar type) in the hutch. The calf plays with it, observe it, and in the evening, it is on! The calves learn to salivate and we obtain much less diarrheas than with floatting nipples. When neighbours inquire about the breed, I tell them: consistently use the nipple bucket ! Three weeks later they drink from a commun calf feeder.
Olivier Mionet, Réty (62) – 30 Montbeliarde heifers bred each year
At our farm, calvings often occur in pasture. The calf stays 24 to 48 hours with its mother. After separating them, we wait for it to come forward before we feed it. We must certainly not be more stubborn than the calf. One or two meals can be missed without hesitation. They drink individually from a low flow nipple bucket with their head up to improve the closing of the esophaegal cavity. I check very carefully the nipples’ quality to keep the calves salivating a long time. This prevents them from sucking each other.