How long do you have to bottle feed a baby calf

How Often to Feed – ProviCo Rural

Bottle-Feeding Calf Basics: How Often to Feed

While plenty of baby calves are able to meet their nutritional needs through their mother, it’s common to come across calves who have been rejected by or separated from their mother. When this happens, it’s necessary to bottle-feed the calf to ensure it receives the proper nutrients.

If you’re searching for ways to grow your herd, raising a bottle-fed calf is a great alternative to purchasing older cattle. Bottle-feeding takes time, effort, and dedication, but it is well worth it. It costs significantly less to buy a calf, the bottle-feeding stage is over extremely quickly, and bottle-fed calves often grow up into gentle, friendly, and companionable adults.

Bottle-feeding isn’t rocket science, but it does have some guidelines. We’ll lay them all out below so that you can learn the best practices of bottle-feeding calves for them to grow up healthy, strong, and happy.

How Often Do Newborn Calve Drink?

When nursing from their mothers, young calves will drink between 7 to 10 times a day, though their meals will be fairly small.

If you’re thinking that there’s no way you can do so many feedings every day, that’s OK! Bottle-fed calves only require 2 to 3 feedings a day — and that’s a much more manageable number. Your bottle-fed calf should only need two bottles as long as they’re kept warm and healthy. If they begin to lose weight or if it is cold, add an extra bottle to help them thrive.

Young calves require routine, so it is important to develop a feeding schedule right away and then stick to it. If you need to make any changes to your calves’ diet — such as adding new foods or reducing their milk replacer intake — do so gradually over the course of a week.

The Main Danger of Overfeeding a Newborn Calf

Bottle-fed calves often don’t know when to stop eating, making it easy to overfeed them. It’s imperative to stick to your feeding schedule to ensure your calf does not overdrink! Not only is overdrinking expensive, but it can also be dangerous — even deadly — for your calf.

Overfeeding your calf can result in scours, a type of cattle diarrhea, which can quickly cause dehydration, lethargy, low body temperature, and eventually death.

The key to treating scours is to do so as quickly as possible. Scours can often be treated with electrolyte mix, but these will only work if you take action before it’s too late. Select an isotonic electrolyte for best results.

While bottle-feeding your calf, be sure to monitor them for extremely loose, discolored, or bloody stool. If your calf develops scours or you notice something amiss, don’t hesitate to call the vet right away.

Tools Needed to Bottle-Feed Calves

There are a few items you’ll need to bottle-feed your calf correctly. All are relatively inexpensive and easy to find at most feed stores.

  • Bottles and nipples. Calf bottles usually come in 2 liter measurements, the size of a standard meal. Nipples come in a variety of sizes and flows. Though most calves will drink from standard sizes without a problem, you may have to test a few for more picky drinkers.
  • Thermometer. A thermometer will help you measure water temperature to ensure it is hot enough for the fats in the milk replacer to dissolve properly, but not too hot to cause the proteins to separate or to burn the calf.
  • Whisk or mixer. A cheap whisk or other mixers will help you easily combine the water and mixer to ensure a smooth consistency.
  • Mixing containers or buckets. Mixing containers or buckets with spouts will make pouring easier and less messy. And because it’s important to measure correctly, we recommend using a container with graduated measurements to ensure you’re always feeding the calf a consistent amount.
  • Milk replacer. You’ll find many different types of milk replacer on the market, including medicated and non-medicated options. Your chosen milk replacer should come with clear instructions on how much to feed your calf. Make sure to follow these instructions as the amount of milk replacer to use per feeding may vary from brand to brand.

It’s incredibly important to keep your tools clean, sanitized, and dry when you’re not using them. Bacteria love the sugar content and temperature of milk and milk replacer and so will grow quickly on dirty containers, nipples, mixing buckets, and other equipment. Always clean and sanitize your bottle-feeding tools immediately after use to keep your calf healthy and stop the spread of bacteria to the rest of your herd.

How to Bottle-Feed a Calf in 8 Simple Steps

Now that you know how often to feed and the tools needed for a bottle feed, it’s time to learn the best way to bottle-feed! While it may take a few tries to perfect your system, bottle-feeding is actually fairly easy and quick.

  1. Thoroughly wash your hands and gather your clean, sanitised and dry tools.
  2. Add half of the total amount of cleanwater to the mixing bucket or container, making sure that the temperature is between 40 to 50 degrees Celsius.
  3. Weigh out the proper amount of calf milk replacer powder and add to the mixing container.
  4. Stir for 1 to 3 minutes until the mixture is properly combined. There shouldn’t be any floating powder or spots when mixed thoroughly.
  5. Add the remaining clean water and mix again. The final temperature should be around 40 to 42 degrees Celsius when fed to the calf.
  6. Transfer the made-up liquid milk to the bottle and snap on the nipple.
  7. Feed the calf! Young calves may instinctually try to head-butt your hand or the bottle, so be sure to hold the bottle steady while feeding.
  8. Once the calf is done feeding, thoroughly clean, sanitise and air-dry all of your feeding tools. Store them in a clean and convenient location to facilitate the next feeding.

What Should I Feed a Bottle-Fed Calf?

Your bottle-fed calf will need a variety of foods for a healthy, wholesome diet.

If you receive your calf the day they’re born, their first feeding should be colostrum or a colostrum replacement. Colostrum is the first milk a nursing cow produces and is rich in antibodies, and other necessary bioactive elements that will protect the newborn calf from sickness and infections.

After the initial colostrum feeding, calves should be fed up to 2 liters of milk replacer two to three times a day. This will continue until the calf is at least 8-12 weeks old. As the calf grows, you can begin to supplement milk replacer feedings with hay, calf pellets, and pasture. Be sure to constantly provide the calf with clean water.

Choosing the right milk replacer is essential to your calves’ health and growth. It is important to note that most healthy calves reared in small numbers do not need a medicated milk replacer. For intensive calf-rearing operations where the risk of disease is often high, use medicated milk replacers for best results. Avoid rearing calves from saleyards. Interested in supplements for your livestock? Look for high-quality, affordable, and fortified formulas such as ProviCo Rural’s formulas to ensure your calf gets the best start in life.

Caring for Newborn Beef Calves Separated from Their Dams

Calves that are orphaned or abandoned at a very young age present a unique set of challenges on a cow-calf operation. These situations arise not only from dams dying at or shortly after birth, but also from behavioral or health issues that keep a cow or first-calf heifer from properly mothering her calf. Calves out of cows producing insufficient milk or born as multiples may need to be raised with special attention. In the dairy industry, calves are routinely separated from their dams at very young ages. The resulting calves are sometimes referred to as “bucket” or “bottle” calves.

Initial Calf Care Priorities

Colostrum Intake

The first priority in caring for a bottle calf is to ensure adequate colostrum intake. Timing of colostrum intake is particularly important, because the calf’s ability to absorb colostral antibodies decreases rapidly throughout the first day of life. Plan for calves to receive 5 to 6 percent of their body weight in colostrum within the first 6 hours after birth. Feed colostrum again 12 hours later. To ensure proper timing of these feedings, calving herds must be watched closely for new births. Observe newborn calves within the first few hours of life to ensure that they nurse their dams. If dams refuse to allow their calves to nurse or are physically unable to allow nursing, take immediate action to provide colostrum to newborns.

Fresh colostrum from the dam is best and may require restraining and milking the dam or allowing the calf to nurse the restrained dam. This can be accomplished in a squeeze chute with removable sides that allow access to the udder. In the case of orphaned calves, providing colostrum from another source is critical. If fresh colostrum is not available, then the preferred source of colostrum is frozen colostrum previously harvested from within the same herd. The next-best option is frozen colostrum from another herd. When neither fresh nor frozen colostrum is available, then substitute commercially available powdered colostrum. Have colostrum and newborn feeding supplies on hand before the start of the calving season. Otherwise, it may be difficult to acquire and administer colostrum in a timely manner.

Naval Care

Naval care is another calving management practice that should receive priority. Apply iodine or a similar topical disinfectant to the umbilical cord of the newborn calf. Continue to observe the naval closely to make sure that it dries and heals. Watch for signs of naval ill or infection, such as swelling of the naval. These infections are more likely in muddy or wet calving areas. Naval ill can develop even when the naval is disinfected shortly after birth and ground conditions are dry. An infected naval typically appears swollen and may be painful to the touch. Treat an infected naval immediately. Consult a veterinarian for treatment protocols.


Provide calves with clean, well-ventilated pens and shelter from the weather. Calf hutches can be purchased or barn pens used to house bottle calves. Individual penning can help prevent calves from sucking one another and reduce the spread of disease. It also facilitates individual monitoring of calf feed intake and feces consistency as signs of calf health. Allow 15 to 20 square feet of barn space for calves with access to an outdoor lot and 20 to 30 square feet of barn space for those without outdoor lots. Mississippi State University Extension Publication 2558 Beef Cattle Calving Management provides additional details about processing newborn beef calves.

Very young calves raised on bottle or bucket feedings are generally more vulnerable to predators than heavier, older cattle. Without the close connection to a dam in the herd, bottle or bucket calves may separate themselves from the herd on a frequent basis. This leaves them vulnerable to predator attacks, and predators may be particularly attracted to the herd during calving season with the presence of afterbirth and new calves. Consider penning bottle calves in a more protected area such as a well-fenced pen with a mature cow until they grow to a size and thriftiness that allows them to better escape from or defend against predators. Extension Publication 2661 Predator Control on Beef Cattle Operations provides more information on this topic.

Feeding the Young Calf

For the first few months of life, bottle calves must be either artificially reared by humans on milk replacer diets or grafted onto nurse animals. These young calves are not yet mature ruminants, so they need a milk-based diet. A calf needs to consume approximately 8 percent of its birth weight in milk or milk replacer each day. Offer bottles twice daily in two equal feedings. Follow feeding directions on product labels. As the calf grows, keep the amount of milk replacer constant, but also offer calf starter feeds and good quality hay as its appetite increases. Make clean water available for the calf, as well.

Grafting to a Nurse Cow

Successful grafting of a calf onto the side of a lactating cow eliminates the labor and expense of bottle feeding. Besides providing a milk source for the calf, it also gives the calf protection from predators. Grafting a calf onto a beef cow that has lost her calf or another nurse cow (often a dairy breed) purchased specifically for such use requires management and patience. Grafting may also be needed in cases in which the dam initially refuses to allow her own calf to nurse. This may be more common in females that calved for the first time or dams that gave birth to multiples.

Start by penning lactating cows and newborn calves separately from the rest of the herd in a space that allows the calf to interact closely with the cow to which grafting is being attempted. Provide adequate shade and water in the pen, along with forages or other feedstuffs for the cow. For best results when introducing the cow and calf, do not bottle feed the calf to satiation immediately before trying to get it to suckle the prospective nurse cow. A tight-bagged (full-uddered) cow and a hungry calf are more likely to result in successful grafting.

When applicable, rub or tie the skinned hide (skin over the back along with the tail) of the nurse cow’s dead calf onto the grafted calf to transfer scent and encourage the cow to accept the new calf. Afterbirth and commercial products consisting of synthetic pheromones also can help in grafting. Using these scents may be helpful during the first 2 to 3 days but not much after that period.

The cow and calf may be too distracted by human presence to nurse or bond when first introduced. Allow them time alone together without distraction, and then either observe them at a distance undetected or check them later for signs of nursing, including a full belly on the calf and slick teats or reduced udder filling on the cow.

Initially give the nurse female an opportunity to accept the calf without restraint, but do not wait too long for nursing to occur before relying on restraint. It is critical that newborn calves receive adequate colostrum and nutrients in early life. Also, dehydration is a risk that must be addressed through forced feeding situations if necessary. If the cow repeatedly kicks at or butts the calf and does not allow it to nurse when unrestrained, physically restrain the nurse cow in a squeeze chute with the bottom sides removed so the calf can nurse twice a day. Repeat until the cow claims the calf willingly.

If the nurse female has undergone a difficult birth or is stressed from losing her calf, use extra care in handling her, and observe her closely for signs of distress or health problems. It is possible that even when a nurse female accepts a grafted calf, she may not lactate well enough to support the calf. In some cases, the cow may dry off (discontinue lactation). Do not assume that a suckling calf is getting adequate nutrients through nursing. Closely monitor the calf’s weight and condition, and supplement additional nutrients as needed.

Milk Replacer Diet

In the absence of a nurse cow, use a milk replacer that contains at least 22 percent crude protein and 15 percent fat. Mix milk replacer with warm water to better dissolve the product and make it more attractive to the calf. If a hot water source is not available close to the feeding site, use a thermos or other insulated container to transport warm water to the feeding site. Then, mix the warm water and milk replacer powder together when ready to feed the bottle. Keep the temperature of the mix consistent between feedings and not more than 100°Fahrenheit. Also, use the same amount of milk replacer in the mix each feeding. Be sure to thoroughly mix the powder and water by stirring or shaking to dissolve all of the powder into the mixture.

Use separate bottles for each bottle calf to limit risk of disease spread. Sanitize all feeding equipment after each meal. To protect human health, particularly that of susceptible young children, keep bottle feeding supplies out of human food preparation areas.

Although a calf may instinctively nurse its mother, it may need to be taught to drink from a bottle. Start by inserting one or two fingers into the calf’s mouth. As the calf begins to suck, insert the bottle nipple in its mouth. It may be necessary to straddle or stand beside the standing calf and support its head upward while the calf is backed against a solid fence, wall (corner is best), or vehicle. This head position will also help close the esophageal groove present in young calves and shunt milk past the rumen and directly to the abomasum (“true stomach”) instead.

It may take a while to get lethargic or ill calves to actively suck a bottle. When possible, spend the additional time to get a calf started on a bottle before resorting to a forced infusion of feeding liquid. But, if a calf still refuses to take a bottle, a stomach tube (Figure 1), also known as an esophageal feeder, can be used to infuse milk replacer directly to the calf’s stomach. Take extreme care to ensure that the tube is in the esophagus and not the windpipe. Listen to make sure that breathing sounds are not coming from the tube. Sometimes, infusion of milk replacer into the stomach will stimulate a calf’s appetite. Weak calves may require smaller and more frequent feedings. Continue to monitor calves for signs of unthriftiness such as poor growth, scours, and a “pot-bellied” appearance. Have a scours prevention and treatment plan in place based on the advice of a veterinarian familiar with the operation. Extension Publication 2551 Identifying Sick or Injured Cattle provides additional insight about monitoring calves for illness.

Figure 1. Stomach tube.

As calves become used to drinking from a bottle twice a day, they may anticipate feedings and aggressively pursue the bottle. These calves become accustomed to humans feeding them. Although bottle calves are often considered tame or docile, the bottle handler needs to be careful of being head butted by the calf. This becomes more of a safety concern as the calf gains stature and weight over time. A wire bottle holder can be used to attach a filled bottle to a fence to keep the handler from having to hold the bottle during feeding. Be sure to remove the bottle from the calf when emptied to prevent the calf from sucking excess air into its gut.

Bucket feeding of milk replacer is also possible, but take precautions to keep calves from stepping in and knocking over buckets. Make sure that buckets are not too tall for calves and are secured. To teach bucket feeding, place fingers moistened with milk into the calf’s mouth as described earlier. As the calf begins to suck, gently lower its mouth into the bucket of warm milk. Keep its nostrils clear of the liquid. Repeat as needed until the calf drinks on its own.

Transition to Solid Feeds

By 3 weeks of age, calves should be able to digest small amounts of solid feeds. Make sure feeders are not so high or deep as to be difficult for calves to reach the feed. Calf starter feeds should be dust-free, highly palatable feeds containing 75 to 80 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN), 15 to 20 percent crude protein, and adequate minerals and vitamins. They should be coarsely ground, rolled, or pelleted to facilitate feed intake and rumen development. Calves can be adapted from starter to grower rations at around 4 months of age.

After the calf finishes each milk replacer meal, place a small amount of solid feed in its mouth to encourage feed tasting. Keep small amounts of dry, fresh feed in a feed box or tub in the calf’s pen. At first, calves will consume only about a fourth of a pound of grain per day. This will increase to about 2 to 3 pounds of starter feed by 3 months of age and approximately 3 to 5 pounds of feed at 6 months of age. Do not feed more than a calf will clean up in a day to avoid leaving stale or moldy feed.

Hay or pasture consumption encourages rumen development. Hay should be high quality and offered free choice. Provide limited exposure to green pasture, greenchop, or silage until calves are 6 months of age, because excessive feeding of these high-moisture forages to young calves can limit dry matter and nutrient intake.

Weaning Young Calves

Calves can be weaned at 4 to 8 weeks of age if eating well (1½ to 2 pounds of starter feed daily). Wait longer to wean less vigorous calves or calves that still have low grain intake. Extension Publication 2555 Early Weaning Beef Calves provides detailed information on this topic. Gradual weaning reduces calf stress as discussed further in Extension Publication 2578 Beef Calf Preconditioning Programs. Do not change up other aspects of the calf’s routine when weaning a young calf from milk.

Make sure that weaning records reflect the correct contemporary group status of the calf. It is not fair to compare weaning weights for an orphan calf receiving milk replacer to those of other calves raised by their own dams. Most breed associations have special weaning codes to account for this.


Raising a bottle calf requires patience and attention to care. It may take several days or even weeks of good management to get a bottle calf well on its way to surviving on its own. Close management of calf nutrition and health are keys to successfully raising a bottle calf. For more information about beef cattle production, contact your local county MSU Extension office or visit Extension's livestock beef site.

Publication 2810 (POD-12-19)

By Jane Parish, PhD, Professor and Head, North Mississippi Research and Extension Center.

Copyright 2019 by Mississippi State University. All rights reserved. This publication may be copied and distributed without alteration for nonprofit educational purposes provided that credit is given to the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Produced by Agricultural Communications.

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution. Discrimination in university employment, programs, or activities based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, or any other status protected by applicable law is prohibited. Questions about equal opportunity programs or compliance should be directed to the Office of Compliance and Integrity, 56 Morgan Avenue, P.O. 6044, Mississippi State, MS 39762, (662) 325-5839.

Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director         

Feeding calves from the first days of life up to six months


  • What to feed calves in the first month of life?
  • What and how to feed for the second and third month?
  • What to feed calves up to 6 months?
  • What do experts advise?

In order to raise a healthy bull or cow, the newborn calf must be properly cared for and fed. The latter often causes difficulties for breeders. How to feed a young animal before it switches to a normal adult diet? Feeding calves by months from the first days of life is described in detail below in the article. nine0003

What to feed calves in the first month of life?

The first 10 days after the birth of a calf, it must be fed with colostrum. Colostrum is the precursor of milk, it appears in the cow immediately after birth. As a rule, it is more than enough to feed the calves from the first days of life, but if not enough, you will have to buy more or take it from another cow.

Stages of development of the rumen of the calf

Together with colostrum, the calf receives the necessary trace elements and vitamins that activate its immune system, forcing the body to adapt to the environment, start fighting harmful microorganisms, viruses. nine0003

Regardless of the time of birth, the first portion of colostrum is given to the newborn 30 minutes after birth. The norm is 1.5-2.5 liters, depending on the weight of the calf. The first 4 days the calves are fed 6 times a day. From the 10th day, the calf should get used to the 3-fold diet.

A calf should eat 6-8 kg of food per day, that is, approximately 1.5-2 liters of colostrum or milk at a time. For about two weeks, he is fed on colostrum, and then on mother's milk, but then he is transferred to combined milk and whole milk substitutes ("Kormilak"). It is important that the whole milk replacer does not contain vegetable proteins! nine0003

In addition to milk and colostrum in the first month, closer to 4 weeks, you can supplement the calf with boiled potatoes and even start introducing crushed, liquid cereals (oatmeal, semolina). From now on, you can already feed the calf with hay with legume leaves. But in small quantities! On average, the norm in the first month for a calf is 1 kg per day.

In the first month of life, it is important that the calf has full access to water, but only from the 3rd day of life. Lack of moisture in the body can lead to weakness, digestive problems, and so on. Up to 2 weeks give boiled water, and then simple. Instead of water, infusions can also be used, but still there should be a drinker with clean water in the stall. nine0003

What and how to feed during the second and third months?

Feeding diet for calves from 1 to 3 months

A month after birth, the animal is considered to be strong, its immune system is fully functional. Therefore, feeding calves with whole milk can be almost completely stopped. The norm of milk per day for 2 months ranges from 3-4 liters per day. This will be enough. Some breeders generally do not give the calf milk for 2 months, but if finances allow, this will not hurt. nine0003

Now the basis of the diet is reverse. They begin to give it in small portions with a gradual increase in the amount. At least 4-6 liters are fed per day. Together with the reverse, plant foods are also introduced. To make it easy for the calf to get used to the new food, you need to purchase easily digestible feed with a lot of nutrients. They are not cheap, but for calves at 2 months old they are perfect!

If it is not possible to buy food, you can prepare it yourself. For this, high-quality leafy hay and oatmeal (sifted) are taken. Separately, hay with small stems, soaked in a salt solution, is poured into the feeders. 800 grams of such food is given per day for 2-3 months. nine0003

If 2-3 months are in the summer, fresh grass can be given to the young. Up to 2 kg of greens are given per day. From 2 months, vegetables are introduced, only they need to be given gradually, in some animals there may be intolerance to certain products. The norm of hay at this age is up to 1.5 kg per day.

What to feed calves up to 6 months?

Everything you need to feed and keep your calves comfortable

During the 4th month, feeding young calves is no different from feeding a 3-month-old animal. Only concentrates, succulent feed and hay should be given about 1.5 times more. nine0003

For the 5th month, the amount of skimming is reduced to 3 liters per day. This month, the calf should consume 1.6 kg of concentrates, 5 kg of fresh greens and 2.3 kg of hay per day.

Active fattening of the animal begins at the age of 6 months. The main part of the diet is feed. The better it is, the less vitamins you will need to buy. During the day, the animal must eat at least 1.6 kg of concentrates, 6.6 kg of fresh grass, 3.3 kg of hay. Returns are no longer given at all.

At this time, it is already possible to give young animals the vegetables and fruits they like (apples, carrots, beets, potatoes) in full, as well as adults. nine0003

What do experts advise?

In order for the animal to grow quickly, it is worth following some feeding recommendations.

  • From 1 to 3 months of age, calves are fed using teat bottles to prevent them from overeating, otherwise obstruction or intestinal upset may develop.
  • Any new foods are introduced into the diet carefully, in small portions, so that the body of the calf gradually gets used to them. Otherwise, the appearance of diseases is not excluded. nine0070
  • As the animal develops, its need for any useful substances increases. If you do not give the norm for which the body is designed, this can lead to slow growth and development of young animals, insufficient activity, and diseases.
  • Regardless of age, calves and adults should always have clean, fresh water in the drinker!
  • Separately, for enhanced growth of calves, salt, minerals, vitamins, grass flour can be added to the feed.
  • nine0013

    Feeding calves in their early life - Agrovesti.

    net Feeding

    Simex recommendations

    Until birth, the calf is protected from exposure to microorganisms, temperature fluctuations, digestive disorders and other adverse factors. If a pregnant cow is fed according to the norms, it provides the body of the calf with a sufficient amount of proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins A, D, E, so that he gains 0.5 kg of weight daily in the last 30 days in the womb. nine0003

    If a cow has been in the herd for 3 weeks before calving, she has antibodies in her blood that protect her from most of the diseases common on this farm. Unfortunately, in the bloodstream that nourishes the calf in the womb, these antibodies are filtered out and do not reach the embryo.

    It is important for a calf to become immune to disease in a new environment. During the first 6 weeks of life, he is very susceptible to infections. Strengthening of immunity occurs during the first 4 months of life rather slowly; the calf acquires full natural immunity and becomes hardened only when it reaches 15 months of age. nine0003


    Colostrum is the first milk from the cow after calving and is very important for the newborn calf. He needs to be fed 1 kg of colostrum as soon as possible (within the first 15 minutes of life) and also provide additional feedings for the next 24 hours.

    Colostrum contains large amounts of ready-made maternal antibodies and is the only way she can pass on her immunity to the calf to resist the many pathogens it will encounter during its first months of life. Since the calf's digestive tract is highly permeable immediately after birth, these antibodies and colostrum nutrients are rapidly absorbed and directly into the bloodstream. Subsequently, the intestinal walls become less permeable, and the rate of their assimilation decreases. That is why it is important to feed the calf with colostrum as early as possible. It contains 2 times more solids and energy, 100 times more vitamin A, 6 times more protein and 3 times more minerals than regular milk. It also contains enzymes that contribute to the chemical change in the intestinal environment necessary for the digestion of food. Colostrum flushes the digestive tract and thus inhibits the reproduction and movement of E. coli in the upper gastrointestinal tract and stomach. High levels of bacteria in these areas lead to early death of the calves. nine0003

    Surplus colostrum can be frozen in ice trays and stored in 1 kg portions. They are used for calves born from cows that have been milked (milked) within a few days before calving, as well as for calves from cows that have not been in the herd for 3 weeks.


    A calf's milk intake can be regulated by weaning it quickly from its mother. This reduces stress on the cow and also reduces the risk of harm to the calf. nine0003

    Feeding a calf milk in small portions when drinking from a nipple (rather than from a bucket) stimulates its production of saliva. Increased saliva production in turn increases the production of enzymes needed to improve milk digestion.

    A newborn calf has a 4-part stomach, although currently only one is functioning, the rennet Liquid food (milk ) enters directly into it through a tube formed by the occlusion of the esophageal trough.Its closure is stimulated by various stimuli (sucking, milk, water) and this reflex weakens as the calf grows.0003

    During the first 4 weeks of life, the only well-digestible nutrients a calf receives from liquid feeds are milk proteins, vegetable, milk and other animal fats, sugars (lactose and glucose), as well as minerals and vitamins.

    Animal hygiene

    The birth of a calf means its rapid adaptation to many environmental factors. During the first 2 weeks of his life, all efforts should be directed to facilitating this adaptation, and not to a rapid increase in body weight. The respiratory tract, digestive system, and umbilical cord remnants are highly susceptible to pathogens during the first hours of a calf's life. Thus, it is necessary to ensure maximum zoohygiene. nine0003

    The calving site is the most likely location for a calf to become infected. Therefore, this place must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. If a calving site is causing health problems for the calves, another calving site must be found. In summer, it may be a clean lawn (pasture), in winter it should be in a different room. In very cold weather, the calving area should be used for a maximum of 1 hour.

    The cattleman must not only be present at the hotel, but also be near the calf and cow for several hours after it. It is forbidden to touch the calf without first washing your hands in a disinfectant solution. It is necessary to transfer the calf to a clean plastic sheet, and not to a litter. Clear the mouth and nostrils of mucus with a piece of clean cloth. Wipe the calf dry with a clean cloth, do not use feed bags and bedding sacks for this purpose. nine0003

    The umbilical cord is exposed to microorganisms like an open wound. It is necessary to dip it in a 5% iodine solution, dry and cork.

    Animal hygiene is especially important when feeding calves with a liquid diet (milk). Equipment for feeding milk to calves must be absolutely clean and disinfected before each feeding.


    The body of a newborn calf is not yet adapted to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. At this stage, the thermoregulation mechanism does not yet function properly. Therefore, hypothermia and overheating in the sun reduce the resistance of the calf's body and consume its vitality. nine0003

    It is necessary to transfer the calf to the dispensary immediately, and in cold weather dry it under an infrared lamp. The dispensary should be located in a separate building or in a separate place on the farm itself. The dispensary should accommodate as few calves as possible in individual cages. It is very important that it has its own independent air supply system, providing continuous ventilation without drafts and significant temperature fluctuations.

    The dispensary must create an environment that minimizes the possibility of entry into the lungs of calves of microorganisms that cause lung disease. By controlling air temperature and humidity, we help the villi of the respiratory tract trap (weed out) dust and moisture particles that contain microorganisms. In the dispensary, it is necessary to maintain an air temperature of 21 ° C with a high humidity of 80%. An air temperature of 10 ° C is satisfactory with low humidity. nine0003

    Very often, pneumonia in calves occurs as a result of or together with infectious diarrhea. The reasons for this are considered to be stress, as well as certain types of bacteria and viruses. Measures to prevent this are strict zoohygiene, as well as control of temperature, humidity and drafts. Cages should be regularly cleaned, disinfected and provided with clean straw or wood shavings. The dispensary should be considered a quarantine zone, to which only a few people who have taken the necessary measures to prevent the spread of infection have access. nine0003


    Feeding milk to young calves not only increases dry matter intake but also increases energy absorption. Feeding whole milk, whole milk replacer or a mixture of the two is a matter of personal preference, availability and economy.

    Calves are born with a reserve of nutrients and may be slightly underfed for a short period after birth. Restricting the diet helps the calf adapt without straining its digestive system. This practice eliminates the risk of diet-induced diarrhea. Hungry calves soon learn to supplement the liquid ration with the nutrients of dry food and thus meet their nutrient requirements. nine0003

    The Calf Nutrient Requirements and Feed Intake charts below will help you plan your calf diets.

    Table 1. Nutrients of milk chicks

    phosphorus (g) phosphorus (g) nine0167 5 nine0167 9
    Live weight (kg) Dry (kg) Protein (kg)
    25 0.45 0. 11 7
    30 0.52 0.13 8 5
    40 0.62 0.15 10 6
    50 0.76 0.22 12 7
    60 1.3 0.27 16

    Whole milk

    Whole milk is excellent for feeding calves. But its daily dacha should not exceed 8% of the calf's body weight. It is possible to grow Holstein calves, spending 75-100 kg of whole milk during the growing period.

    Whole milk replacer

    (CW) The use of milk replacer in feeding calves up to 4 weeks of age can be compared with the use of whole milk, however, calves lose some gloss and weight. High-quality milk replacer consists mainly of high-quality dairy products (skim milk powder, whey powder, buttermilk powder), as well as a small amount of grain. The stomach of calves before 2 weeks of age does not yet secrete enough enzymes to digest grain starch and large amounts of non-dairy proteins. nine0003

    Due to the fact that the composition of milk replacer is complex, it is better to buy it than to cook it at home.

    Factory-made milk replacer must contain at least 20% protein, 12% fat and no more than 0.25% fiber. Products that are designed to replace milk but do not meet these standards are sold under a different brand name (not milk replacer).

    In practice, farmers prefer to use feed with a high energy content. So, for example, starter compound feed is often used instead of milk replacer. The starter must contain at least 15% fat and 20% crude protein. Adding high quality fat along with moderate feeding will increase energy intake and increase productivity without gastrointestinal distress. Minerals and vitamins are also important. In addition, some milk replacer contains an antidiarrheal antibiotic. nine0003

    According to the USDA milk replacer feeding program, it is recommended to feed it twice a day, 250 g at a time, dissolved in 1 liter of water. This volume remains unchanged until the calf is weaned from milk at 3 weeks of age.

    Some calves start eating dry starter as early as 7 days of age. By limiting whole milk or milk replacer, we are pushing the calf to starter intake. It is necessary to wean calves from milk either when they consume 0.5-0.7 kg of starter daily, or when their weight has reached 60 kg, or when they have reached the age of 28 days. nine0003

    Cultured colostrum

    Many farmers in Canada use cultured colostrum instead of whole milk or milk replacer. This allows you to significantly save feed and prevent the occurrence of diarrhea in calves.

    To obtain fermented colostrum, it is necessary to store it from the first 6-8 milkings of a cow after calving and store it at room temperature. At the same time, the temperature in the room should not exceed 24 ° C and be not lower than 7 ° C. During fermentation, colostrum must be stirred 2 times a day. The presence of blood in colostrum is allowed, but if it is obtained from mastitis cows or contains antibiotics, then it cannot be used. It is necessary to transfer the calf to fermented colostrum gradually. The first time he is fed fresh colostrum from his mother. On the second feeding, he is given a mixture of mother's colostrum and fermented colostrum from previous milkings. On the second day, the calf is given 1 kg of mixed colostrum diluted in 0.5 liters of warm water. On the third day, for feeding large calves, mix 1 liter of water with 1 kg of colostrum and give this amount 2 times a day until the calf is weaned from milk. Thus, for each calf, it is necessary to prepare 65-75 kg of fermented colostrum (feed it for 5-6 weeks). nine0003

    During the first week of life, calves should be given a fresh, attractive coarse starter containing at least 18-20% crude protein. In any feeding program, calves need to be encouraged to eat "starter" feeds earlier in life.

    Diarrhea in calves

    Diarrhea is the most common cause of death in young calves. Its causes are associated either with malnutrition or with bacteria. Calves die from exhaustion, dehydration and blood poisoning. Feeding-induced diarrhea occurs mainly as a result of overfeeding. Proper feeding of calves is a kind of art and therefore it is better to keep them slightly hungry and feed them in the same portions at a certain time (follow a certain daily routine). The volume of the stomach of a young calf is approximately 1 liter. At least 5 types of bacteria and about 100 strains of them, as well as toxins from their vital activity, can cause infectious diarrhea in calves. Individual buckets and drinkers thoroughly washed and disinfected between feedings, nipples, as well as clean and dry cages will help prevent this disease. Dehydration caused by severe diarrhea disturbs the balance of substances in the body of the calf and is the main cause of death. Physiological solutions to replace lost fluids can be purchased from a veterinarian. nine0003

    Vaccines have also been developed to prevent infectious diarrhea in calves.


    A calf should be getting enough vitamins from colostrum by the time it transitions to a grain diet. But for additional protection, especially during the last two winter months, it is recommended at birth to make an injection of 1 million IU vit. A, 150 thousand IE vit. D and 100 IU vit. E.

    Grain ration for calves

    Early weaning of the calf from its mother reduces feed and labor costs and reduces the risk of feeding-induced diarrhea. Large, healthy calves can be weaned at 3 weeks of age, most of the rest at 4 weeks of age. The main thing to consider with early weaning is that the calf's liquid diet should be limited so that he can switch to dry food as soon as possible. The current trend towards early weaning, rapid growth and early transition to pasture highlights the importance of a quality starter for calves. The starter should be fresh, eatable, and meet the following nutrient levels: 20% protein, 70% TDN, and a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. % calcium phosphate, 1% mineralized salt and a vitamin mixture of 2000 units of vitamin A and 300 units of vitamin D for each kilogram of grain mixture. nine0003

    If small quantities of starter are needed, it is usually advisable to purchase a factory made starter. Its advantages are freshness, palatability and variety.

    Due to the high content and digestibility of protein and energy in starter feed, it is advisable not to feed the calf hay until it is accustomed to grain feed. There is no real benefit to feeding calves under 3 weeks old with hay. The acceptable level of average daily live weight gain at the age of up to 7 weeks is 500 g. The unwritten rule for weaning a calf from milk is the moment when he consumes 0.5 - 0.7 kg of starter feed per day. Its amount will increase sharply after weaning the calf from milk, when he will be offered a free choice. The daily amount of starter fed to calves may be limited to 2 kg. nine0003

    When raising bulls for fattening, the height of the calves at the withers should be given as much attention as the increase in weight. A study has shown that it is recommended to feed calves up to six months of age with a 20% protein starter. At this stage, the daily ration will be 2 kg of grain ration, free access to water, minerals and high quality first cut chopped hay.

    Feeding patterns for dairy heifers fed rations that included corn silage, grass-bean silage, grazing, and second-cut hay indicated that, on average, the rumen was not sufficiently developed in terms of the capacity and efficiency of consumption of these feeds in up to six months of age. nine0003


    Water is given to calves from 7-10 days of age. At first, a small amount is regularly given, then as the calves begin to consume more dry food, the amount of water is increased. Water must be fresh and drinkers must be kept clean.

    Cold calf housing

    In Canada, calves are mainly reared in cold housing. Such housing provides a proper environment if it has good drainage, the room is open to the south and the cages are profusely lined with straw or shavings. It is not recommended to use sawdust, as calves eat it to a greater extent than other types of bedding. nine0003

    At temperatures below 0C, calves may suffer from a lack of energy and lack of fluids. In this case, he may die due to malnutrition and dehydration.

    When kept cold, it is desirable to increase the milk intake by 25% in winter. To prevent diarrhea, it is necessary to divide the daily feed supply by 3 times, and not by 2. It is also desirable to give calves milk heated to body temperature (38.5 ° C). Once a day, calves should be given warm water and always given plenty of high-quality starter. It is necessary to try to accustom calves to consume starter from 3 days of age. This will help save the calf's life if for some reason (cold snap) the calves' need for nutrients increases dramatically. nine0003


    Raising healthy calves is the main problem of dairy cattle breeding. One out of every five calves either dies of disease or becomes seriously ill during the rearing period.

    Factors that predispose calves to diseases are poor housing, poor feeding and inadequate animal hygiene. Proper care, attention to each calf, and individual cages are more important to raising a healthy calf than syringes and medicines.

    Table 2 Recommended diets for calves

    200 200 200 170 300 250 Soy flour (44% protein) 200 200 200 300 200 125 240 Flaxseed meal 100 100 100 - 100 100 - dried corn vinasse - 100 100 - - - - Wheat bran 100 - - 100 100 100 - Feed molasses 50 50 100 100 100 50 80 Chalk 15 15 15 - 10 15 - Mineral additive 15 23 23 nine0167 - 10 20 - Dicalcium phosphate - - - 20 - - 20 Magnesium oxide 2 2 2 - - - - Iodized salt 8 8 8 - 10 8 - Salt - - - 10 - - 10 Vitamins A, D, E 2 2 2 - - nine0167 2 - % protein 18.

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