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HomeBeefUsing baby powder to adopt calves onto foster cows
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Using baby powder to adopt calves onto foster cows

A farmer across the waters in California swears by using baby powder to help adopt calves onto foster cows.

On Facebook, Celeste Settrini recently penned a post about what she describes as a “really simple way” to bond a cow and calf.

She says that “every year I have to bring out the baby powder”, and it seems like it “never” fails.

She explained further: “Today, we had a cow who lost her calf, and around our place, we always have an extra calf or two through our cows calving twins.”

“For those unfamiliar with farm life, you might not know that a cow does not ‘mother up’ to just any calf that is not her own.”

“However, if she loses her calf and I have a twin, it is a great way for a cow to raise a calf and a twin to lead the single life and thrive, maybe a bit better than planned.”

She outlined that the first step in the process is to restrain the cow by putting her in the chute and letting the calf get accustomed to her udder and the new smells of their future mom.

Once they start to nurse, cover the calf in baby powder, she recommends. Let the calf continue to suckle for quite a while, so he gets used to it, and so does the cow.

Before you turn the cow out of the chute, cover her nose area with the baby powder she adds.

Then, keep them in a very small area with some silage or hay and water and let them get used to each other.

How it works 

So, how does this work?

She continues: “Mom smells the powder on her own nose, and the calf is covered in powder, so the smells are the same. If all goes as planned, they will connect, as they are both smelling the same powder smell. I swear by it and have never had it fail me.”

“I keep the cow and calf in the small area for a few days just to make sure they are connected, and once I am sure of it, I turn them out with the rest of the herd,” she concluded.

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