"Feeding Newborn Calves, Day 2 to Weaning"
Mike Watkins, Ph.D.
Dairy Manufacturers, Inc.
Clean and sanitize all feeding equipment before use. Days 2 and 3 postpartum: feed only clean colostrum, 4+ qts./day (10-12% of birth weight) divided into two feedings/day. If the amount of clean lower-quality colostrum is not available, one-half of the colostrum may be replaced with reconstituted milk replacer.
Day 4 through 3 days before weaning: Feed a high-quality milk replacer or pasteurized waste milk* at the rate of 10-12 % of birth weight or to appetite, depending on how aggressive a growth is desired. Divide amount fed into two feedings daily. (At 80 lbs. birth weight, a calf would be fed 4 qts./day at 10%, 5 qts./day at 12%.) If calf stool is too loose, reduce amount fed by daily 0.5-1 qt. for 2-3 days to allow adaptation; then resume normal feeding rate.
Begin offering small amounts of a palatable 20% protein, complete (fortified with appropriate vitamins and minerals) calf starter daily in the first week. Remove any uneaten portion and replace with fresh starter daily to maintain intake and avoid molding. Increase amount offered as intake increases.
Provide fresh, clean water free choice all times to meet water needs and enhance starter ration intake. Reduce the amount of milk replacer fed to 2 qts./day (one feeding/day) 3 days before weaning to further increase consumption of calf starter before weaning.
Wean calves when they are consuming 2 lbs.+ of 20% protein starter ration daily for three consecutive days.
Other Practices: Electrolyte therapy. Maintain normal milk replacer feeding schedule and feed 2 qts. of electrolyte solution 1 hr.after each regular feeding. Follow mixing directions on electrolyte package.
Follow prudent sanitation and recommended vaccination programs.
*Waste milk should be pasteurized in a continuous-flow pasteurizer at 165ºF for 15 seconds to kill pathogens (Johne’s disease pathogen, E. coli, Salmonella, BVD virus, BLV virus, etc.) in the milk and reduce the total bacterial exposure of calves.