Feeding and caring for calves in the first year of life

Calves are quite demanding animals to care for. Particular attention should be paid to feeding this cattle. Feeding the calves should be balanced and correctly selected in accordance with age, otherwise the animals will grow slowly, and improper nutrition will affect the state of health not in the best way.

Feeding and caring for calves from the first months

Feeding newborn calves

During this period, you won’t have to particularly ask questions about nutrition, since the cow is breastfeeding the newborn. But this process should not be allowed to drift. The milk that the cow gives immediately after calving and over the next 6 days is called colostrum. It is very important that in the first hours of life the calf ate precisely colostrum, the composition of which significantly differs from that characteristic of ordinary milk. The main difference is that the colostrum contains the antibodies of the mother, which are necessary for the calf to form immunity and protect against pathogenic bacteria. As for the content of other elements, then vitamin A, for example, in colostrum is 100 times more than in milk.

It should be ensured that the newborn animal eats about 1 kg of colostrum immediately after birth. Over the next day, it will not be amiss to give colostrum in addition to mother's milk. But you should know that all the beneficial components contained in colostrum are best absorbed during the first few hours after birth.

The first 10 days you should not adhere to any specific feeding schedule. The calf should be given milk as needed. Limiting portions is also not worth it. The animal will not drink more than he needs. As a rule, the daily norm of milk during this period is 8 liters. During the first week, the newborn is fed at least 5 times a day.

Colostrum can be frozen: after defrosting, it does not lose its properties and does not change in composition.

Cooking colostrum yourself

If for some reason the cow does not give colostrum, you can cook it yourself. True, this product will not be as useful as natural colostrum obtained from a cow. For its preparation, 4 eggs are taken from chicken, 15 and 10 g of fish oil and salt, respectively, 1 liter of cow's milk. All ingredients are placed in containers and mixed until smooth. In the finished mixture, the salt should completely disperse.

You need to feed newborns with home-made colostrum half an hour before taking the main food, which is fresh cow's milk. Give no more than 300 g of homemade colostrum at a time.

First dietary changes

The first changes in calf feeding occur on the 10th day. During this period, cattle are transferred to 3 meals a day. In addition to milk, which animals drink from a bucket on their own, semolina is introduced into their diet. To make porridge, you need 4 tbsp. l semolina and 3 liters of cow's milk. Hay and starter feed are also introduced into the diet. All new feed is introduced into the diet gradually, observing the reaction of the animal to new food products.

An important place in the diet is nutrition. Milk alone, despite the fact that it is a liquid, is not enough. Be sure to give newborns water. Do not leave a container of water in the barn. You need to drink the calf 120 minutes after eating. Pre-water is warmed to room temperature. It is enough to give 1 liter of water at a time, although it is impractical to limit the drinking regime.

After 3 weeks in the barn should be a liquid with pre-heated water. Water temperature should exceed 12 degrees.

Oatmeal jelly

In addition to milk, it is advisable to include oat jelly in the diet during the first month of life. To prepare it, you will need 1 liter of water and 80 g of oatmeal. Heat the water to a boil, fill it with flakes, close the container with a lid and leave the flakes to infuse for 10-15 minutes.

The daily norm of this drink for animals, whose age varies from 10 to 16 days of life, is on average 200 g. From 16 to 19 days give calves 400 g of drink. Over the next 2 days, increase the dose by another 200 g. From 21 to 25 days give 700 g of drink per day. From 25 days to a month old they give 900 g of oatmeal jelly per day. The next 2 days increase the daily norm of the drink by 300 g. On the 32nd day we give 1800 g of jelly. From day 36 to day 60 we give 2400 g of drink per day. Upon reaching the animals of 2 months of age, kissel is replaced with concentrates.

Monthly calf ration

The following changes in diet occur after 30 days of life. We'll figure out what to give a monthly calf. During this period, the diet is enriched with succulent feed, for the preparation of which vegetables and fruits are added to the hay. First of all, potato peels, carrots and beets are introduced into the diet. All vegetables are chopped. You can also add apple peeling to hay.

Carefully monitor the quality of feed. Do not give animals scraps that have become sour and have already begun to be covered with moss. Poor nutrition leads to various indigestion, which subsequently adversely affect the state of health. In some cases, such negligence can lead to the death of the animal.

In addition to the main nutrition, calves need to be fed, which will provide the body with trace elements and vitamins necessary for the normal functioning. Similar top dressings are on sale. You should buy only high-quality supplements that have a fairly high price. You can do top dressing yourself. At the age of one month, the calf needs calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins of groups A, D, and E. To prepare top dressing, you need meat and bone meal, salt, and chalk. All 3 components are taken in equal proportions. A single feeding rate is at least 30 g.

Also at the age of one month add reverse. At the same time, one animal should drink an average of 5 liters of skim per day. Replace the reverse can be milk, divorced decoction of horse sorrel and St. John's wort. Milk is diluted in a ratio of 2: 1. In addition to the fee at the age of 2 months, the calves begin to be fed with oats and other crops.

We figured out how to feed a calf in 1 month. At the same time, feeding calves up to 3 months is not significantly different, and the next change in diet occurs at 3 months of age.

3-month-old calf ration

The period of life that begins when the calf reaches 3 months of age is called post-dairy. One can already guess from the name of this period that at this stage milk is practically excluded from the diet. Accordingly, it must be replaced by some other type of feed. This feed is a concentrate made from bran, oilcake and cereals. You can cook such foods at home, or you can buy ready-made ones.

When buying feed, you should carefully study its composition. They prefer mixed feeds enriched with mineral supplements and vitamins. Preparing feed at home is cheaper. But, in addition to feed, you will have to give mineral supplements in the form of meat and bone meal, chalk and salt. At the same time, mineral supplements should not be abused: their excess will not benefit either the newborn calf or adults.

If this growth period fell in the summer months, then green feed will be an excellent alternative to feed. At the beginning of the post-dairy period, no more than 2 kg of green feed is given per day. At this stage, milk is not yet removed, but only its quantity is reduced. Gradually increase the dose of green food and, accordingly, reduce the rate of milk. So, at the age of 4 months, the calf should receive an average of 11 kg of green feed per day. At the end of the post-dairy period, they give a calf 18-20 kg of green feed per day.

In some heifers, hunting begins already at the 6th month of life, therefore, during this period, the hens need to be grazed separately from the bulls, if there are any in the herd.

The diet of calves over 6 months of age

Feeding calves from 6 months is slightly different from feeding after 3 months. When animals reach 6 months of age, they speak of the onset of a period of active growth. The goal of feeding calves of this age is weight gain. If the animals do not receive enough feed, they will not even gain the average weight for their breed.

As a rule, this period falls in the winter. Accordingly, it is not possible to feed cattle with green fodder. The winter diet consists of animal feed, meadow hay and root crops. Serving weight should be appropriate for the age of the animal. So, for example, at the beginning of the period of active growth, animals are given 3 kg of meadow hay and root crops, 1.5 kg of feed. This is the daily allowance for one calf. Already for 12 months, the daily norm consists of 7 kg of root crops, 3 kg of meadow hay and 1 kg of compound feed. In addition to the main feeds, we give animals water and mineral supplements.

Calf care

Calf care is not limited to one feeding. You need to monitor livestock from the first minute of livestock.

Calf birth

During calving, the cow must be near the woman in labor. She is not always able to give birth to herself. If the calf does not appear in 40 minutes, you need to help him. It is advisable that this assistance be provided by a specialist who gently pulls the calf out of the front legs and head. It is extremely difficult to independently perform this procedure without causing harm to either the woman in childbirth or the newborn calf. If there is no veterinarian nearby and you have to help the cow give birth, then the calf should be pulled in those moments when the cow is pushing.

After birth, the umbilical cord is trimmed from the calf. In this case, pre-disinfected scissors should be used. The edge of the umbilical cord should be filled with iodine, having previously squeezed out the remaining blood from it. Then they lay the calf next to the cow so that it licks it. The rough tongue of the woman in labor massages the skin of the newborn, increasing blood circulation. This helps the calf keep warm. If the cow refuses to lick the calf after birth, the mucus from his body must be removed with burlap.

At the end of all the above activities, a newborn calf is placed in a pre-prepared cage. By preliminary preparation of the cell is meant its disinfection. The floor of the room must be covered with a thick layer of clean and fresh straw. The barn should have at least 12 ° C. It is better that the temperature is 15-16 ° C. A feature of newborn calves is that they need very little time after birth to acclimatize. Already after 6 hours they keep their feet perfectly.

Care for calves in the first months of life

So that there are no problems with newborn calves, they need to be accustomed to the regimen from the first weeks. They give food at the same time, otherwise the animals will eat poorly. Sometimes the lack of a regime leads to overeating, which negatively affects the health status of the livestock.

During the first two weeks, young animals should be kept in separate cages. The temperature in the barn should not fall below 13-15 ° C. All liquid feeds are given warm (35-36 ° C). Only after reaching the age of one month the calves are transferred to a common barn, where they are kept in cells in groups. At the same time, young bulls at this age are not hooked up to adult gobies and cows. Gobies and heifers up to 6 months old can be kept together.

A two-month-old calf is less whimsical compared to a one-month-old. At this age, it can already be grazed with adult cows, but the composition of compound feed and food additives is different from the composition of compound feed of adults, so nutrition should be carefully monitored. An improperly selected diet in the future will negatively affect the milk and meat productivity of cattle.

During calf rearing, the most important thing is to keep the cells clean. Systematically need to do disinsection of the barn, ventilate the room.

Calf health

Subject to all norms of keeping and feeding, calves are extremely rare. If we talk about the most common diseases, then a recently born calf most often suffers from:

  • gastrointestinal diseases;
  • dysplasia;
  • peritonitis;

Consider the symptoms of these diseases and methods for their treatment.


This disease, which is popularly called indigestion, is most often encountered by farmers. The causes of this disease are many. If, for example, an animal drinks too fast, dyspepsia can occur. Also, the disease occurs due to the intake of too cold or too hot food, when consuming sour milk products, with a sharp change in diet.

Symptoms of dyspepsia, which is a gastrointestinal illness, are loss of appetite and digestive upset. With the development of the disease, the calf's eyes begin to sink and the appearance of the coat deteriorates. At the same time, the animal breathes heavily and often.

To treat a calf at home with this disease, you need a saline solution, for the preparation of which you will need 10 g of sodium chloride and 1 liter of water. Drinking is given warm. In addition to saline, nothing is offered to the animal.


Another gastrointestinal disease that farmers most often encounter when feeding 1-2 month old calves. Symptoms of constipation - general lethargy, bloated abdomen. Immediately after bloating, the amount of milk given is reduced. To cleanse the stomach, calf is fed with castor oil (not more than 150 g). You can also rub the stomach with turpentine.


Dysplasia is an underdevelopment of the joints. This disease is most often found in representatives of meat breeds. Until the end of the cause of the onset of the disease, scientists have not studied, but it is proved that the lack of minerals in the first weeks of life and the inadequate content provoke this disease. Also proven is the fact that dysplasia is inherited. This fact must be taken into account when conducting breeding work.

In a monthly calf, it is extremely difficult to identify the disease. It manifests itself in three-month-old youngsters and at a later age. At first, the animal begins to walk poorly, over time it falls to its feet. The diagnosis can be made after x-ray studies, although at home, you can determine this disease with an accuracy of 98%. Unfortunately, the treatment of this disease of the musculoskeletal system has not yet been developed.


Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum. This disease is quite painful, often the animal screams in pain. Peritonitis is a consequence of an advanced disease of the abdominal cavity (intestinal inversion, gastroenteritis, ulcer, etc.).

Symptoms of peritonitis are high body temperature, general lethargy, loss of appetite. The animal has a short and restless sleep, during walks it humps, the stomach sags. Before starting treatment, you should consult a doctor: only a specialist will correctly diagnose. Treatment involves the use of antibiotics, and sometimes surgical intervention.


First of all, it is worth noting that the state of health of the calf depends on the state of health of the cow that was carrying it, therefore, during pregnancy, the cow should be provided with proper conditions of detention, monitor its nutrition. Also, the conditions of detention directly affect the health status of young animals. Animals do not tolerate frost and drafts. The bedding in the calf should be made of dry hay. It is desirable to change it every day. Calves need to be bathed and taken for walks from a month old.

In addition to compliance with the norms of maintenance, vaccination is carried out. Already on the 10th day, a vaccine is given against viral diarrhea. After 21 days, revaccination is carried out. After the 12th day, calves are vaccinated against viral diseases, and at the age of one month they are vaccinated against infectious diseases.

All vaccinations are given according to the scheme. It is important to plant an absolutely healthy animal. The vaccine will be prescribed by the veterinarian, depending on the specific breed of cattle.

Also a preventive measure is a systematic inspection of the livestock. At the slightest ailments (the calf fell and does not get up or shakes in a dream, for example), you need to call a veterinarian or at least show a photo of the animal if there are visible changes. In any case, no specialist will be able to accurately diagnose the photo: only after examination the veterinarian will diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment.


Raising calves is a painstaking and complex process. The diet of cattle must be carefully monitored from the first days of life. At each stage of growth, feed should be carefully selected. So, for example, feeding a calf at the age of 3 months is different from the diet of a monthly calf. Especially carefully you should choose a diet for a newborn calf.

The diet of the goby and heifer may vary slightly. Also, the cattle breed, the purpose of the content and its orientation affect the design of the nutrition scheme. Мясные породы, к примеру, держат для получения качественной говядины. Сколько кормов давать телятам, зависит от их возраста и веса. На упаковках с комбикормами указаны рекомендуемые дозы.


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