Some Important Pointers About Feeding Calves

Three calves on a field

Three calves on a fieldFeeding calves isn’t exactly rocket science. But to ensure optimal health and yield, one must take note of several pointers. Calves are delicate since they’re in the early stages of their lives. A good calf raiser is more or less a parent, and it starts with what the calves eat.

Basic Daily Intake

Various studies state that starter and grower calf meals high in starch are essential. This supports much of the calves’ healthy weight gain. They specially formulated nutrients in these feeds for the calves’ growing bodies – they are, of course, babies.

Fibre is also important, though only in controlled amounts. Remember that calves often can’t properly digest and process fibre. Feeding the likes of hay, straw, and haylage should be in moderation.

Another important tip involves colostrum. There should be fresh colostrum available for a calf (including bobbies) within their first 24 hours of life. Raisers should feed either this or a colostrum substitute at least for a calf’s first four days.

Weight Matters

This is self-explanatory for all raisers, beginner or experienced: doubling birth weight is critical. For instance, a 40 kg calf at birth should weigh roughly 80 kg during weaning. Doing this ensures less work in terms of post-weaning management.

Achieving this uniformity requires great portion control. One must take note that calves convert roughly 50 percent of what they eat into physical growth. A combination of different foods can result to almost 1 kg of growth daily. The key is finding the right mix to ensure steady growth.

Final Thoughts

A calf is an infant. It requires delicate, steady care from its earliest days until its weaning period. Good raisers are adept at knowing how to handle calves properly, including their food intake. With proper nutrition and feeding schedules, calves will grow healthy and provide good yields.