4. Calf Management
Calf Management Recommendations:
- Isolate the calf from the dam and other cattle at birth to prevent disease transmission. (Note that Chuck’s calves are constantly being exposed to manure from the adult cows and the other calves.)
- Give good quality colostrum, ideally from mature cows. Assess the quality of the colostrum by using a colostrometer to measure the immunoglobulin level. Good quality colostrum has a total immunoglobulin concentration greater than 60 mg/ml. (Note that Chuck does not check his colostrum but just assumes the colostrum he feeds is of adequate quality.)
- Ideally, the first feeding of colostrum should be given within one to two hours after birth. A second feeding of colostrum should be given within 12 hours after birth. All feedings of colostrum should be given within the first 24 hours of birth for maximum absorption. (Note that Chuck admits to not getting colostrum to his calves this quickly.)
- Each time that colostrum is fed, give two to four liters, depending on the size of the calf. Give an 80 lb calf four liters of colostrum, which is approximately 10% of the calf’s body weight. Give a 60 lb calf three liters of colostrum, which is approximately 10% of the calf’s body weight. (10% body weight of an 80 lb calf is 8 lbs. 8 lbs = 128 oz = 4 quarts or 3.79 liters).
- Occasionally check the immunoglobulin level in the calf’s blood to assure that the colostrum has been properly absorbed. A reasonable goal for the immunoglobulin level in the blood is10 g/l. (Note: Chuck does not do this.)
- After the first two feedings of colostrum, other milk (i.e. milk replacer or pasteurized milk from the bulk tank) can be fed.
- Continue to feed milk to the calves twice a day for six to eight weeks. Give an 80 lb calf four liters of milk, which is approximately 10% of the calf’s body weight. Give a 60 lb calf three liters of milk, which is approximately 10% of body weight. (10% body weight of an 80 lb calf is 8 lbs. 8 lbs = 128 oz = 4 quarts = 3.79 liters). The amount of milk or milk replacer should be adjusted as the calf grows.
- Supply free-choice fresh grain and clean water.