Top Ten Tips for Feeding Milk and Milk Replacer to Dairy Calves

Feeding milk and milk replacer properly is crucial for the growth, health, and development of dairy calves. Here are ten tips to help you optimize milk feeding practices:

  1. Colostrum Feeding
  • Timely Intake: Ensure each calf receives at least 3-4 liters of high-quality colostrum within the first two hours of life. This helps establish immunity and provides essential nutrients.
  • Quality Check: Use a Brix refractometer to ensure the colostrum has a reading of 22 or higher, indicating it is rich in antibodies.
  1. Consistent Feeding Schedule
  • Routine: Feed calves twice a day at regular intervals. Consistency helps calves develop a stable feeding routine and promotes better digestion.
  • Monitoring: Keep track of each calf’s intake to ensure they are consuming the appropriate amount.
  1. Correct Mixing of Milk Replacer
  • Follow Instructions: Always mix milk replacer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Incorrect mixing can lead to digestive issues and poor growth.
  • Water Temperature: Use warm water (approximately 38-40°C) to mix the replacer, ensuring it dissolves properly and is at a palatable temperature for the calves.
  1. Gradual Transition to Milk Replacer
  • Ease into It: Gradually transition calves from whole milk to milk replacer over several days to avoid digestive upsets.
  • Monitor Reactions: Watch for signs of digestive discomfort during the transition period and adjust accordingly.
  1. Feeding Amounts and Frequency
  • Age-Appropriate Portions: Feed younger calves smaller, more frequent meals and gradually increase the amount as they grow.
  • Weigh Regularly: Regularly weigh calves to adjust feeding amounts based on their growth and nutritional needs.
  1. Sanitation of Feeding Equipment
  • Daily Cleaning: Clean and sanitize bottles, buckets, and any mixing equipment after each use to prevent bacterial contamination.
  • Dry Storage: Store feeding equipment in a clean, dry place to maintain hygiene.
  1. Using Warm Milk
  • Optimal Temperature: Ensure milk or milk replacer is fed at body temperature (38-40°C). Cold milk can cause digestive issues and reduce intake.
  • Consistent Temperature: Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the milk before feeding to ensure consistency.
  1. Monitoring Health and Intake
  • Health Checks: Observe calves for signs of illness such as diarrhea or lack of appetite. Healthy calves should be active and alert.
  • Record Keeping: Maintain records of each calf’s feeding schedule, amounts consumed, and any health issues.
  1. Weaning Process
  • Gradual Reduction: Gradually reduce milk feedings as calves begin to consume more solid feed. A slow transition helps minimize stress and digestive problems.
  • Solid Feed Introduction: Introduce high-quality calf starter feed by the third week to encourage rumen development.
  1. Supplementation with Probiotics
  • Precision Microbes: Consider using Precision Microbes’ unique probiotic and postbiotic liquid in the milk. This can enhance gut health, improve nutrient absorption, and reduce the risk of digestive issues.
  • Regular Use: Incorporate the probiotic liquid into daily feeding routines for optimal health benefits.

For optimal calf health and growth, incorporating Precision Microbes’ unique probiotic and postbiotic liquid into their milk feeding regimen can help maintain a healthy microbial balance. This reduces the risk of infections and improves overall calf performance. Contact us today to find out more: #PuttingPrecisionIntoCalfNutrition