People who purchase a calf need a record of the animal and an account of its history. Here are some answers to common questions that can help new owners properly feed, house and care for calves.
- Milk or milk replacer at 101–105 degrees F. (Use thermometer to check.)
- 2–4 quarts milk (1–1.5 lbs dry replacer) two times a day (20% of body weight daily).
- Milk replacer: Follow mixing instructions; 20%–22% protein (milk source), 15%–25% fat (higher in winter).
- Check nipple condition. (Should just drip when bottle is inverted; do not enlarge nipple opening.)
- Free choice high-quality calf starter (coarse texture, more than 50% grain, 18% protein, less than 9% molasses, less than 4% fat), starting at a few days old.
- Chopped hay starting at 5–7 weeks (preweaning).
- Clean water available at all times.
- Sanitation of bottles, buckets and feeders is critical.
- Clean, dry bedding; deeper in cold weather. (Straw is ideal.)
- If air temperature is outside of comfort range (50–75 degrees F), provide calf jacket, fans, etc., as appropriate.
- Good ventilation (fresh air) but no drafts.
- Monitor ammonia odor at calf level; if noticeable, change bedding and improve ventilation.
- Control flies.
Disbudding and castration
- Do both as early as possible.
- Provide pain relief such as meloxicam; discuss with veterinarian.
- Disbudding: burning or caustic paste. (Learn from veterinarian or someone experienced.)
- Castration: rubber ring banding or surgical removal.
If calf has diarrhea and is standing or appears strong and is drinking all milk: give an oral electrolyte solution containing sodium bicarbonate between regular milk feedings. Do not combine electrolytes with milk.
When to contact a veterinarian:
- Calf has diarrhea, is not drinking milk or is dehydrated, depressed or unable to stand.
- Calf has temperature over 104 degrees F.
- Calf has snotty nose, drooping ears, elevated respiratory rate, bloat or other signs of illness.