How to properly feed newborn calves

Milking calves occupies an important place in the care of young animals. It is important to conduct it correctly, since the development of the babies, their fertility and the amount of milk yield in the future depends on it.

  1. Why do you need colostrum
  2. Colostrum feeding of calves
  3. Milking of growing calves
  4. How to change the calf feeding system
  5. Calving of calves with water: correct milking
  6. milking calves with milk powder
  7. Conclusion <

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Milk calves

There are many ways to feed calves, they all have their pros and cons, a detailed video will help you choose the best option. Several stages. You can do this with water, milk or colostrum. Introduce solid varieties of feed should be slowly.

Also, when growing calves, do not forget about the proper care of young individuals: only creating the right conditions and a good drink will allow you to grow healthy calf.

Why do you need colostrum

Feeding colostrum is the first and incredibly important step in caring for a calf. It occurs when the calf is less than a week old. Colostrum contains a lot of nutrients that a growing body needs: it contains the right amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, trace elements and vitamins.

Colostrum not only enriches the body with useful substances, but also gives energy. Partial energy from colostrum is twice as much as from secondary product.It consists of three times as many minerals, six times as many proteins, and a hundred times more vitamin A. Special enzymes responsible for the assimilation of food by the animal’s body are also its constituents. They improve digestion, protect the digestive system, increase the acidity of the stomach.

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The role of colostrum in maintaining immunity is no less important. During the first two days, antibodies in colostrum are easily absorbed by young animals, since the calf has low stomach acid, few enzymes of its own, and therefore there is simply no one to dissolve. Antibodies support immunity, make the body less susceptible to viral, bacterial and other diseases, in the right amount they prevent any infection from entering the first 10 days from birth.

An increase in acidity due to colostrum is also necessary to protect the young organism from aggressive the external environment. That’s why in the gastrointestinal tract conditions are created in which harmful bacteria cannot develop.

Colostrum drinking of calves

Coloning of calves with colostrum is an important stage in the development of young animals, affecting his entire subsequent life. Today there are a lot of ways to feed newborn calves in industrial and domestic conditions. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and therefore it is important to prioritize correctly.

There are rules that absolutely all cattle breeders should keep in mind.The generally accepted calf feeding scheme:

  1. The first feeding is carried out in the first half an hour or an hour from birth, and the volume should be clearly calculated.
  2. The rate of colostrum during the first feeding is 4-6% of calf’s weight, usually it is about 1-2 liters of colostrum.
  3. On the first day, a newborn is given such a volume that will be about 17-20% of its total weight (in liters – from 5 to 7 ).
  4. On the second day, this figure is slightly increased, in total it should be 20-24% of the total calf mass.
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  1. Feeding calves up to age weeks are spent slowly, because in a fragile body colostrum can simply not be absorbed, gather in a lump and cause diarrhea in the animal.
  2. It is important to monitor the temperature of the liquid that the newborns drink: it should be limited to 35-37 ° C.
  3. On the first day, colostrum is given 5-6 times, then gradually reduce the amount of feeding until it is reduced to three times.

The technology for feeding newborn calves in the first week may differ fundamentally. In order to place the liquid, choose a suitable container. It can be a bottle or other bowl with a pacifier or a bucket. It is most convenient to use the first option, because, as previously written, the calf needs partial evaporation in small doses. If the animal is very weak, use a probe. In addition to artificial methods, natural feeding of calves is used: suction.Feeding the calf directly to the cow is practiced for 4-5 days. This method has both pros and cons, and therefore it is worth considering this when choosing a soldering scheme.


  1. The nature of the process.
  2. Providing frequent drinking (up to 9 times) during the first 5-7 days.
  3. Ensuring the desired colostrum temperature.
  4. Partial drinking out.
  5. Enhancing the animal’s immunity by directly transferring antibodies from the body of the cow to the calf.
  6. Reduction of the risk of disease by 50-70%.
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However, nothing happens in our lives without cons:

  1. In view of the fact that colostrum comes straight from the cow about the calf, it is impossible to measure how much fluid the animal received.
  2. During the feeding process, the cow may catch or harm young animals.
  3. This method cannot be used for chronic diseases or injuries of the mammary glands.
  4. If a young individual usually sucks from one nipple, this can lead to improper development of the udder of the cow, affect its productivity in the future.

The quality of colostrum plays a significant role. First of all, it depends on how much the combined diet of a nursing cow, in what conditions it is kept, whether it receives proper care. Protein, carotene and a complex of vitamins (A, B12, E) in the right proportions must be included in the diet of cattle.Conditions should be appropriate: access to fresh grass, walking opportunities, clear water, sunlight, enough free space.

Drinking of growing calves

When calves are fed with colostrum (first week) is finished, gradually transfer the animal to a drink. Initially, maternal feeding is used, soldering the animal from a bottle with a nipple or by the natural method (suction). Then begins the drinking of whole milk to the calves. Mother’s milk is replaced by whole milk. This nutrition lasts about 2 weeks, then milk of various origin is gradually introduced into the diet.

This will make the body of the young individual more resistant to diseases. At the age of several months, a low-fat product is introduced into the diet of young animals. Despite its low calorie content and a small amount of vitamins in its composition, skim milk is necessary for the growing body.

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How to change the calf’s nutrition system

It is better to do the transition gradually according to a certain scheme. For starters, the norm is 1 liter per day. This amount is increased to 5-6 liters (depending on how much a particular species requires). At the age of 1.5–2 months, the dose of skim milk is gradually reduced, while adult feed is introduced into the diet at the same time. Over time, at the age of about 2-2.5 weeks, you can again replace the return to whole milk. However, from an economic point of view, this decision is disadvantageous: it is better to use whole milk for 1 month.

The nutrition of the first few months in young animals is a very important moment in the life of animals. For this, certain rules must be observed: to improve digestion in the young body, small calves of milk are milked with fermented milk. In order to obtain fermented milk, acetic acid or special bacterial starter cultures are added to the fresh product. To feed the calves, you can use the bucket itself or a more convenient way – a bottle with a pacifier.

The calves are fed in small portions until the 1st month so that the dairy product does not linger in the gastrointestinal tract. There are pastoralists using a special bucket with nipples, which is fixed on the table. For mass breeding of cows, a pasteurizer with a cart is used.

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Watering the calves: proper watering

After colostrum and milk, the calves begin to drink water. The young body needs enough fluid. Its deficiency affects the digestive system. systems: increases the acidity of the stomach, food is not absorbed and lingers in the stomach, gastrointestinal problems begin.At the age of 2 weeks, before use, boil water and cool to a temperature of 20-25 ° C. At the age of 2 weeks, water is given without prior boiling.

There are different schemes for feeding calves with water, consider the most common. As in previous cases, they use a bucket or a bottle with a pacifier to drink. After feeding with milk or colostrum, a break of 1.5-2 hours is made, and only then they are watered with water. At the age of 15 days, no more than 1 liter of water should be included in the diet, later the rate rises to 2 liters after each milk products milking. Instead of water, you can use tinctures: they help improve metabolism, accelerate the development and appetite of the animal.For their manufacture, components of ordinary adult cattle feed are used.

Milk feeding of calves with milk powder

At the age of 10 days, a substitute for whole milk can be added to the calf diet. Instead of 10 liters of ordinary milk, you can drink older calves milk from 1 kg of dried milk. There is a certain scheme by which milk is prepared from milk replacer. Usually 1 kg of powder is diluted in 8-9 liters of water. Do not worry about the nutritional and usefulness of this product. For reference, the composition of the mixture includes grain, whey, skim milk and buttermilk. In some milk replacer centers, manufacturers put antibiotics to normalize the intestines of the animal.

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There is no risk of infecting the babies with diseases of the nursing cow in the process of proper feeding of the calves with milk. Another plus of milk replacer: they contain significantly more useful microelements than natural milk.

Milk powder is one of the types of substitutes for whole milk. For its manufacture, special drying machines are used that turn ordinary whole or skim milk into milk powder. Their use is not much different, but the usefulness and energy value has significant differences: in milk powder from whole milk there are much more vitamins and nutrients, it has a high calorie content. It is possible to store such milk in a cool place for a sufficiently long period, however, depending on the conditions under which it is stored, the shelf life can be drastically reduced.Before use, such milk must be diluted with water. The amount of water is determined as follows:

  1. Weigh the calf.
  2. Weigh the empty bucket.
  3. Pour exactly 0.5% of the mass of the calf into the bucket.
  4. Pour water with a mass of 4% by weight of the calf.

Another advantage of milk powder is its static nature in terms of constituent components, which do not change depending on the living conditions of the cow. In addition, it serves as a wonderful immunostimulating agent. In terms of budget, it is cheaper than whole milk.


Milking calves with milk powder is not an easy task, it requires certain knowledge and skills, namely The subsequent life of the individual depends on the correctness of this process.

The animal should be milked in the first days of life with colostrum, then you can replace it with whole milk, skim milk, water, whole milk substitutes, including milk powder. For watering, a generally accepted scheme has been developed. At the age of 2 months, the animal can be transferred to adult food, when the feeding of calves with fermented milk is already finished.

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There are also a lot of rules that must be considered when feeding calves. This is not such a simple process as it seems at first. Do not be afraid of these difficulties. Good luck!

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Anna Evans

Author ✓ Farmer

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