How long 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.

Tips for Successfully Raising Bottle Calves

Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Heather Smith Thomas – When raising cattle, you may encounter the challenge of a young calf orphaned or rejected by mama, needing a bottle from you. If you purchase a young dairy calf, you’ll need to bottle-feed until it is old enough to thrive on solid feeds. Raising bottle calves is easy if you follow some basic guidelines.

The calf might be a twin and mama only has milk for one, or a heifer’s calf that isn’t accepted by its mother, or a calf whose mother died. Raising a bottle calf is very easy with a newborn because he’s hungry and looking for milk, but the first feeding must be colostrum. This “first milk” from the cow contains important antibodies to protect her calf from various diseases in the first weeks of life. Colostrum is also the perfect food because it has a much higher fat content than regular milk and gives the calf energy for strength and keeping warm if the weather is cold.

If a calf is rejected or having trouble nursing mama the first time, you need to milk some colostrum from the cow and feed it to the calf with a clean nipple bottle. He will need one to two quarts, depending on his size. The colostrum will give the calf enough strength and encouragement to keep trying to suckle the cow, and hopefully, the miracle of bonding will take place.

In other instances (if the cow has died or refuses to accept the baby) you’ll have to keep feeding the calf until you find a substitute mother, or simply raise him on a bottle. If there’s no way to obtain colostrum from the dam or from another cow that has recently given birth, use frozen stored colostrum (if you kept some in your freezer from last year). If you don’t have any, use a package of commercial colostrum replacer — a powdered product you mix with warm water. Be sure it’s labeled as replacer rather than colostrum supplement — to have adequate antibodies.

After the first few feedings of colostrum (during the first day of life), you can bottle-feed the calf using milk from another cow, or use milk replacer for calves. There several kinds of commercial milk replacers designed for calves. Some contain more protein and fat than others. For very young calves, choose the highest-quality replacers with high protein and fat (at least 22 percent milk-based protein and 15 to 20 percent fat) and low fiber content.

When feeding a newborn the first bottle (which must be colostrum), make sure the nipple size is appropriate. A lamb nipple works better for a newborn calf than the bigger, stiffer calf nipples. Those work better for an older calf who already knows how to suck. Make sure the hole in the nipple is not too small or the calf won’t be able to suck enough through it and will become discouraged, and not too large or milk will run too fast and choke him. Avoid getting any milk “down the wrong pipe” because if it gets into his lungs he may develop aspiration pneumonia.

Make sure the milk is warm enough. It should feel warm to your touch (since calf body temperature is 101.5, which is higher than human body temperature), but not so hot that it would burn his mouth. You also don’t want it colder than body temperature or he may not want to drink it. Hold the calf’s head up in nursing position, and make sure milk is flowing through the nipple. Usually, once he gets a taste, he’ll suck eagerly.   Make sure he doesn’t pull the nipple off the bottle!

You can use a lamb nipple on a small-necked bottle, or use a commercial plastic feeding bottle with matching nipple. Make sure bottles and nipples are very clean. Wash them in hot water immediately after every use.

When calves are young, they need to be fed smaller amounts more often (every eight hours). If you are using milk replacer for calves read the label and find the daily recommended amount for the size and age of the calf, and divide it into the proper number of feedings. Always mix each feeding fresh. After the calf is a little older you can go to every 12 hours for a calf.

Since you are the food source, you become the substitute mom when raising bottle calves; the calf eagerly looks forward to dinnertime and wants to suck the bottle. More challenging is the one or two-month-old calf that’s been out with the herd all its life and suddenly loses its mom. Cows occasionally die from any number of diseases, accidents or freak things–getting on their back in a ditch, plant poisoning or bloat, killed by predators, or some other misfortune. This leaves you with an orphan that might be a little wild (not ready to accept you as a mom) but too young to go without milk.

You will probably need help to quietly corner the calf in a corral or barn stall and get your hands on him. Then back the calf into the corner, put his head between your legs so you can hold him still, and get the nipple into his mouth. If the calf is hungry he may start sucking as soon as he gets a taste of the milk, and it will become easier with each feeding. Before long he’ll come running to you instead of away from you.

If he is too scared to suck a bottle the first time, however, you may wonder how to tube feed the calf. You can use a nasogastric tube or esophageal feeder probe to get the milk into his stomach. You may have to do this more than once until he starts to realize that you are his food source and relaxes enough to suck a bottle at feeding time.

On occasion when raising bottle calves, you may be bottle-feeding several calves at once, if you are bottle-raising the calves from your dairy cows, or if you purchase day-old dairy calves. It’s not difficult to hold two bottles, but if you have very many calves in the “chow line” it helps to use bottle holders that you can simply hang on a fence or gate at feeding time.

When raising bottle calves, how long to supply milk to any young calf will depend on how soon you can teach him to eat solid food (grass, hay, grain).  In a normal situation, a calf mimics mama and starts nibbling whatever she’s eating (hay, pasture grass, grain) in the first few days of life and gradually eats more. If the calf has been bottle-fed since birth and has no adult role model, you’ll have to show him how to eat by putting a little grain (or calf starter pellets) or alfalfa hay into his mouth. He may not like it at first and you’ll have to keep doing it until he starts eating some on his own. Usually, a calf should stay on milk or milk replacer until he is at least four-months-old. Don’t wean him off milk until he is eating an adequate amount of high-quality forage along with some grain pellets.

Have you had success bottle raising calves? Share your tips in the comments below.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
  • 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.

care and description of possible diseases

After birth, a calf needs special care, regardless of its sex. Only proper maintenance and feeding will ensure the full growth and development of a young animal, which in the future guarantees its successful use for breeding purposes or obtaining high milk yields.

Information from this article tells you in what conditions you need to keep and how to properly feed newborn calves, and photos and videos will help to arrange comfortable conditions for young animals.


  1. How to feed a newborn calf
    1. Feeding during the milk period (feeding intensity, nutrients)
    2. Feeding from weaning to puberty
    3. Completely mixed dry ration for calves
    4. How to water a newborn calf
  2. How to care for a newborn calf - video
    1. In individual cages or houses
    2. Group cage maintenance
    3. Tethered calf housing
  3. How much milk to give to a newborn calf
  4. Diseases of newborn calves

How to feed a newborn calf

Immediately after birth, the calf should be moved to a cage with a thick layer of straw on the floor. The cage can also be placed in a barn if the room is dry, warm and there are no drafts in it. Otherwise, the cage is transferred to another room. Do-it-yourself drawings for building cages are shown in Figure 1.

Feeding newborn calves is a very important stage in their development. In the first days after calving, the cow does not give milk, but colostrum. This is a special substance that contains a huge amount of vitamins, proteins, minerals and antibodies that prevent infectious diseases in young animals. It is colostrum that should form the basis of the diet of animals in the first days of life. It is fed in pairs, first a liter from 4 to 6 times a day, gradually bringing the one-time rate to three liters.

Note: It is important that colostrum changes its composition very quickly, and the amount of useful substances in it is gradually reduced. Therefore, in the first days of birth, young animals should be given the maximum amount of colostrum to ensure rapid growth and develop immunity against infectious diseases and digestive disorders.

In order for the digestion process to normalize faster, calves are given up to one and a half liters of warm water already on the second day after birth. The period of feeding with colostrum lasts no more than five days, after which the cow begins to produce regular milk.

Figure 1. Drawings of cages for keeping young animals: a - an individual cage (1 - a place to rest, 2 - a hay feeder, 3 - a feeder for concentrates), b - a portable cage (1 - a feeder, 2 - a slatted floor, 3 - slurry film, 4 - slurry container)

Calf management also plays an extremely important role. In order for the animal to grow up healthy, it is necessary to adhere to the following rules:

  • Twice a day, clean the cage of manure, thoroughly wash the contaminated places and change the bedding;
  • Dishes for feeding and drinking, as well as for milking colostrum, after each feeding must be thoroughly washed and scalded with boiling water;
  • In the early days, you need to make sure that the animal drank colostrum in small sips, so for this purpose it is better to use a drinker with a nipple;
  • If there is no special nipple, the individual is fed from an ordinary pail, moistening a finger in colostrum to show him where the food is;
  • When the animal learns to drink on its own, the bucket can be attached to the wall of the cage and colostrum can be poured into it from the outside.

It is better to keep newborn calves in special cages with a plank floor with slots for urine drainage. A drinking bowl for milk and a feeder are installed in front of the cage. In this cage, the animal is up to three months of age. Instead of a portable cage, you can arrange a fence next to the cow and place a thick layer of straw bedding in it. Cleaning and feeding requirements remain the same as when kept in a portable cage. Examples of cells for are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Types of cages for keeping calves

Feeding during the milk period (feeding intensity, nutrients)

Feeding newborn calves in the first few days after calving involves feeding the animal with colostrum. It is better to keep the animal in a separate cage, and not together with the cow, since when being next to the female, the calf will drink plenty, which in the future may negatively affect the cow's milk production (Figure 3).

Note: Colostrum is an essential food for newborns. It includes not only all the necessary nutrients, but also vitamins and minerals that increase immunity.

Feeding newborn calves is best done with a special teat. So you can control the amount and intensity of food intake. If he drinks too greedily, the colostrum in his stomach will curdle, and this can cause indigestion. You can not postpone the time of the first feeding. Regardless of the time of day when the calving has passed, the first milking and the issuance of colostrum are carried out no later than 30 minutes after calving. If this is not done, the animal will develop a sucking reflex, and if the young animal does not receive colostrum, it will begin to lick the walls and bedding.

Figure 3. Ways of feeding young animals with milk

Feeding of newborn calves from three weeks of age becomes more varied. Up to this point, only colostrum and milk should be included in their diet.

Later the ration is gradually replenished :

  • Boiled potatoes are used as top dressing;
  • Milk is still included in the diet, but its amount is being gradually reduced. Instead of cow's milk, special substitutes can be given;
  • From the age of one month, the body is considered sufficiently strong, and milk can be replaced with skim milk. Start with a small amount of the product, gradually increasing its share in the diet;
  • High-quality hay can be filled into the feeders. It should be small so that the animals gradually learn to chew. Hay is best moistened with saline to prevent worms.

From the age of two months, concentrates are introduced into the diet. For these purposes, mixes of cereals, bran and oilcake are used. Gradually, green grass is introduced into the diet if a newborn calf was born in the summer.

Feeding after weaning until puberty

We found out how to feed a newborn calf, it remains to determine what is better to feed the animals in the future. The composition of the diet depends on the sex of the animal, since heifers and bulls are used for different purposes and require certain nutrition.

Females are kept for breeding purposes or for raising high producing dairy cows. For breeding purposes, it is necessary to select healthy, large individuals, with normal development and without defects. Good milk yields can only be obtained from animals with a good origin (from a high-milk cow and a thoroughbred productive bull).

Feeding heifers is extremely important, so the animal's diet must be balanced :

  • Lack of protein provokes growth retardation, and its excess provokes a decrease in the use of this nutrient;
  • The individual must receive sufficient amounts of calcium and phosphorus necessary for bone growth and tissue development;
  • The diet should also include iron, cobalt, iodine and table salt;
  • Vitamins A and D are of great importance in development (obtained from fishmeal, high-quality hay and irradiated yeast). In addition, for the synthesis of vitamin D, animals need to be regularly walked in the fresh air;
  • The diet should consist of various types of feed: whole milk, concentrates, succulent feed (silage and root crops), hay and mineral supplements.

On the first day after birth, the female is fed only colostrum, the volume of which depends on the planned growth rate. They are accustomed to the skimmed milk gradually, and it can only be given to individuals of one month of age. Traditionally, they are fed milk for only 10-20 days, after which they are transferred to other feeds. However, to ensure normal growth, it is better to extend this period to three to four months.

Figure 4. Food for females: 1 - dry oatmeal, 2 - hay, 3 - milk or skim, 4 - lick salt

To ensure the rapid growth of the animal, feed should be dosed and prepared correctly (Figure 4).

  • Dry oatmeal - start feeding from 15-20 days of age. Before serving, oatmeal is sieved through a sieve, mixed with warm water and poured into a feeder (you can also feed it through a bottle).
  • Salt, chalk is introduced into the diet from the 11th day of life. The initial rate is 5 grams, but as the animal grows, the amount of salt given out increases.
  • Hay starts to be given out on the 10-15th day. You can lay it out in the feeder or hang it around the cage in the form of brooms. Only high quality hay is suitable for feeding.
  • Succulent feed (potatoes, root crops and quality silage). Feeding begins from the second month after birth. Juicy feed is prepared separately. As a basis for silage, it is desirable to use a mixture of young clover or alfalfa with cereals, supplementing them with legumes and boiled potatoes.

Milk, skim milk, succulent feed and concentrates are dispensed in doses according to the age of the animal. Silage and hay can be fed in unlimited quantities.

Oatmeal from the second month of life is replaced by corn or a mixture of concentrates. The lack of silage can be made up for by a large dose of root crops.

After the start of grazing, the diet should be reviewed, making the following adjustments to it:

  • Up to 3-4 months of life, the amount of milk and concentrated feed is left at the same level;
  • Eliminate hay and silage from the diet, replacing it with green grass;
  • If pasture grass quality is poor, animals should be supplemented with mowed green plants;
  • From the age of 3-4 months, in the presence of a sufficient amount of green fodder, half of the root crops and concentrates are excluded from the diet.

The first three months of heifers are kept in special portable cages, the design of which does not allow the animal to turn around. This prevents contamination of feeders and drinkers with faeces and urine. They can also be kept on bindings next to the mother, equipping a feeder and drinker.

See also: Feeding cows at home

In the first 15-20 days of life, the animal should be walked daily for 15-20 minutes, gradually increasing the time of walking. In the summer, they can be kept outdoors almost all day (grazing on a leash). Young females are not recommended to be driven out to a common pasture due to the high risk of infection with worms.

The stall and cage should be cleaned regularly, the bedding changed and whitewashed regularly.

Heifers older than six months are given mainly hay and silage in winter, and green grass in summer. The diet should also include succulent feed and concentrates. One-year-olds can be given spring straw, but it must be supplemented with other feeds. Root crops in their entirety can only be given to animals over a year old, and young animals must be crushed without fail.

Young bulls for slaughter are best fattened to 15-20 months of age, with a heavy feed for the last three months. In this case, by the time of slaughter, the live weight of the bull will exceed 400 kg.

Note: Quite often, the lack of feed in home gardens forces owners to slaughter bulls earlier. This is not recommended, especially for individuals born in the spring, since the abundance of inexpensive feed in the summer allows you to quickly grow a bull of the desired weight.

Young bulls up to six months are fed with milk, supplementing the diet with other types of feed. This ensures the fastest possible growth of the young. Animals born in the spring can be given green grass instead of coarse and succulent feed, and to save concentrates, it is advisable to graze bulls on a leash. You can see examples of feed for fattening bulls in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Feed for bulls: 1 - milk, 2 - silage, 3 - green grass, 4 - concentrates of industrial production

About half of the diet of a one-year-old bull intended for slaughter should be silage. In the future, its percentage increases, and coarse and succulent feeds are given out in smaller quantities. In summer, young bulls (from 12 to 18 months old) can be kept exclusively on pasture, without giving concentrates to animals.

Bull calves are less picky eaters in the early fattening phase, so they can be fed roughage or offal. But as the animal grows, and especially at the end of fattening, more and more juicy and concentrated feeds are included in the diet.

Immediately before slaughter, part of the silage is replaced with concentrates. It is advisable to keep young bulls in a corral, arranging daily walks for them to increase their appetite.

Dry Full Mixed Calf Diet

Recent studies have shown that the use of Dry Full Mixed Calf Diet produces healthy and strong calves. The essence of this feeding is that a newborn animal eats high-quality hay and grain concentrates, which provoke the development of a scar.

How to feed newborn calves on a dry full mixed ration? To do this, you need to prepare the necessary feed and properly prepare them (Figure 6):

  • Hay is taken only short and high quality. If the hay is long, the animals will not eat it. You can replace hay with high-quality chopped straw;
  • Young stock feed is used to balance hay or straw. The share of hay is approximately 80%, the rest should be occupied by compound feed;
  • Hay and compound feed are mixed and supplemented with mineral supplements.
Figure 6. Example of

dry full-blend calf ration A full-blend dry mix can be supplemented with linseed meal or cake and a small amount of grain. It is possible to introduce such a feed mixture from the second week of life, starting with small doses and gradually increasing the amount of feed.

How to give water to a newborn calf

Almost immediately after birth, a calf should be given warm colostrum to drink. In the first few days, it is drunk 4-6 times a day. Knowing how much a newborn individual weighs, you can determine how much colostrum he needs to be given at a time. On average, this volume is 0.5-1 liter. In the future, the one-time rate is increased to 2-3 liters.

Note: The intake of colostrum during the first few days plays a very important role in the development of the animal. It is thanks to colostrum that it grows rapidly, gains weight and receives the antibodies necessary to resist diseases.
Figure 7. Watering of a newborn calf

It is important not only to give the calf the correct amount of colostrum, but also to ensure that he drinks correctly (Figure 7). First, nipples are used for this, and after a week they are transferred to special drinkers or buckets. Warm milk or colostrum is poured into the container, a finger is moistened in it and the animal is allowed to drink. When the animal gets used to drinking from a bucket, the container is simply hung on the wall of the cage.

How to care for a newborn calf - video

A newborn calf needs careful care, as its body is not yet strong enough. Animals are especially sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. Therefore, immediately after birth, he is transferred to a separate stall with clean bedding. The room should be heated, and in winter it should be equipped with artificial lighting.

In individual cages or huts

Individual housing of calves in special cages or huts is considered a relatively new method. Immediately after birth, the animals are transferred to special houses without insulation, but with bedding. A small paddock is arranged near the house (Figure 8).

Keeping calves in individual houses makes it easier to care for them, strengthens the immunity of animals and prevents the spread of diseases.

Figure 8. Individual houses for young animals

It is this method that is widely used abroad, but for our country it turned out to be unsuitable in several respects:

  • reverse effect. Calves not only did not improve their health, but on the contrary, the number of individuals infected with bronchitis or pneumonia increased.
  • The arrangement of individual houses requires an investment of money, which is not available to many households.

Wooden houses are often used instead of plastic ones, but they must be placed under a canopy, as during rain the wood picks up moisture and becomes too cold.

Group cage keeping

Care of newborn calves, in which all young animals are kept in cages in groups of 10-15 individuals, is more traditional for our country. With this method of keeping, the newborn animal is in a small individual stall for the first two weeks (sometimes in the same room where the cow is kept), and after this period it is transferred to a large cage and kept with individuals of the same age (Figure 9).

Figure 9. Group housing

On large farms, a separate room is equipped for this purpose. Inside, it is divided into compartments for keeping in small groups. The group is formed by age, as this facilitates the process of care and the formation of a diet. The main disadvantage of this method is considered to be large labor costs, since the attendants need to spend a lot of time and effort on cleaning the cages and dispensing feed.

Tethered keeping of calves

Tethered keeping is practiced mainly for older animals. Newborn calves are also kept in separate stalls, but their size allows the calf to move freely and there is simply no need for a leash.

See also: How to build a barn with your own hands

Tethered housing is used in home gardens in winter, when the calf is indoors most of the day, and goes out for a walk for only a few hours. When tethered, the stall is made in such a way that the calf feels relatively free, but at the same time it cannot turn its back to the feeder and drinker. The harness should be long enough so that the calf can lie down at any time.

A feeder and drinker are installed inside the stall, and a slurry chute is installed in the back of the stall. The floor in the stall is done at a slight slope.

How much milk to give to a newborn calf

Immediately after birth, the milk consumption rate is 0.5-1 liter. But this figure depends on the weight and individual characteristics of the animal. At the first feeding, it is recommended to pour more milk into the nipple so that the animal can drink freely.

In the future, before switching to feeding with hay and green grass, one individual drinks 2-3 liters of milk. It must be warm, and special nipples or buckets are used for drinking. Drinking containers should be kept clean and disinfected regularly.

Diseases of newborn calves

Young cattle are susceptible to various diseases, as their bodies are not strong enough to withstand environmental factors.

See also: Diseases of cows and their symptoms

The most common diseases of newborn calves include (Figure 10): This disease can occur when hygiene rules are not followed or because the navel is cut with too sharp scissors. If the umbilical cord has become edematous, you need to bandage it, and if pus begins to stand out from the wound, call the veterinarian to prescribe special treatment.

  • Constipation is also quite common in young animals. Defecation becomes rare or difficult, the animal's abdomen swells, and the behavior becomes restless. To eliminate constipation, you need to slightly reduce the amount of milk and give the animal half a glass of vegetable or castor oil.
  • Rickets is manifested by incorrect positioning of the legs and thickening in the joints. In addition, the animals do not want to stick in and walk, are lame and may start to gnaw on the walls of the stall. To eliminate rickets, ultraviolet irradiation is used and vitamin D is given to animals.
  • White muscle disease is one of the most common winter diseases. The essence of the disease is that the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and minerals is disturbed in the animal's body. As a result, there are violations in the work of the muscles of the heart and joints. White muscle disease is the most common cause of death in calves, but even surviving calves are retarded and in poor health.

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