Calf Rearing


There are five pillars of calf rearing and these are;
1. Cleanliness

  • 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.

2. Colostrum

  • 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.

3. Consistency

  • 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.

4. Calories

  • 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.

5. Comfort

  • 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.
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