Let’s first look at what a calf is. A calf (plural calves) is a young domestic cow or bull. Calves are reared to become adult cattle or are slaughtered for their meat, called veal, and hides.
There many of us who rear calves who either have little knowledge of how to rear them or even no knowledge at all especially if it’s the first time to venture into cattle rearing. This guide has laid down five pillars to help you acquire more knowledge on how to rear calves on your farm.Thee five pillars of calf rearing include the following below;
The five pillars of calf rearing include the following below;
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 de-horn 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.
Whole milk can be used to feed baby calves. Calves should be fed daily approximately 10% of their body weight (1 quart of milk weighs 2 pounds). For example, a Holstein calf weighing 90 pounds at birth would be fed 4.5 quarts (9 pints) of milk daily or 2.25 quarts per feeding when fed twice daily.
To achieve good growth rates and excellent rumen development and function, calves need to be fed appropriate amounts of milk or milk replacer and good quality concentrate. Below are some tips for dairy farmers to help ensure their calves are receiving adequate nutrition. Provide access to fresh clean water from birth.
To achieve good growth rates and excellent rumen development and function, calves need to be fed appropriate amounts of milk or milk replacer and good quality concentrate
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