We take much care in raising our calves. By getting the calves off to a good start we make sure that we will have a good herd of cows in the future. The best cows always begin life as healthy calves.
When they are born we let the calf nurse the cow for a few days. Sometimes we have to help the calf find the cow's udder to nurse. Occasionally the calf will refuse or the cow will not stand still. When this happens we will milk the cow and feed the calf her milk with a bucket or bottle. It is extremely important for the calf to get the first milk the cow gives which is called colostrum. It not only nourishes the calf, but it also provides antibodies to make their immune system strong.
The calves are then moved to the calf barn where we try to provide a healthy environment. Each calf has a stall to themselves that we keep bedded with straw. This will help cut down on spreading sickness. They have access to fresh water and good, green hay.
Twice daily we feed the calves milk and an easy to digest grain mix. The milk comes as a powder that we mix with warm water. When the calves are at least a month old we will begin the weaning process by feeding them milk only once a day. After doing this for about a week we will move them out to another barn where they will have a much larger pen and be in a group of around five calves.
Keeping a good eye on baby calves and making sure they eat well and don't get sick is very important. When calves are not well taken care of early in their life they can easily fail to reach their potential. The way we raise calves is not perfect and may not be exactly like other farms. It does, however, work well for us. Calves are the future of every farm.