There are five pillars of calf rearing and these are;
- Calves must be born and raised in a clean environment.
- Dry clean bedding and clean floors are essential for healthy living.
- Rough cement and concrete floors are preferable as they are easier to clean.
- Long cut or baled straw make good bedding and fresh straw should be added daily.
- The bedding chosen should have moisture, and should never be wet or too soft.
- Sanitize buckets and bottles by scrubbing regularly with a brush soap and spread to the sun.
- This is the foundation of calf development.
- It contains essential antibodies, vitamins and proteins.
- It provides the calf with immunity within the first few weeks which protects against diseases.
- The calf has to receive colostrum within in one hour of its birth, and another two to four liters 12 hours later.
- After that it is important to follow the recommended the vaccination program to protect against future diseases.
- Be sure to feed calves every day at the same time, and always give milk at the same temperature (preferably room temperature 25 degrees Centigrade).
- Do not switch between cold and warm milk, as this might make the calf sick.
- It is recommended that your calves should be handled by only one person who should know the calves very well.
- From the second and third day after birth, the calf must be fed milk from the cow.
- Give two liters in the morning and two in the evening.
- Start your calf on calf-starter or pellets on day four, and feed the pellets or starter meal twice per day.
- Start weaning your calf off milk when it is six to eight weeks old.
- Start weaning when the calf consumes half a kilogram of starter meal every day.
- The milk fed to the calf should be decreased gradually over a 10 to 12 week period.
Rules for weaning
- Always supply the calf with fresh, clean drinking water and replace it twice per day.
- Supply good quality hay, as this is good for the development of the rumen.
- Start giving multi vitamin supplements two weeks before weaning.
- Don’t castrate or dehorn calves during weaning.
- Move the calves to their new pens one week after weaning.
- Always make sure the housing is well ventilated, draught free and well lit.
- Always separate calves from older cattle.
- Housing should be clean and dry.
- Calves should have easy access to feed and water.
- Do not mix the feed in the pens and store the feed in a separate location away from the housing.