Stimulating growth of the calf
The first month of a calf’s life sees the development of the rumen and preparation for weaning. The calf will still be dependent on whole milk or milk replacer so milk feeding levels and programs should be adjusted to the calf’s weight, health and climatic conditions.
Faster growth rates can be achieved by providing larger portions of feed as long as the amount is built up gradually to avoid diarrhoea.
- Monitor average daily gains
- Feed for growth rates above 750g/1.65lb per day (>2 times above maintenance requirement)
- Adjust quantity of milk or milk replacer to ambient temperature
- Offer access to good quality calf starter
- Discard unconsumed calf starter between feedings
- Provide access to fresh water
- Give enough room for moving around, playing and running
- Make the calves get up once a day and check health and alertness of calves: if signs of disease noticed, check the calf
- When dehorning calves, use a local anesthetic and pain killer
- Wet calves and wet bedding
- Delayed follow-up of calves showing signs of decreased appetite or suspected disease
- Mixing groups of calves in which the age difference is greater than three weeks
- Bad air quality
You can find out much more about the calf’s first month in the Calf Management booklet.