Rearing Calves

Ensuring calves get colostrum in the first 6 to 12 hours is CRUCIAL for their productivity. If you suspect a calf has not gotten colostrum, consider culling it immediately.

No replacement heifer should be kept who has not had 2 to 4 L of quality colostrum (Brix of more than 22) within the first 12 hours after birth. Topping up calves with colostrum when they arrive to the shed is important and can be combined with administering 30ml of Aloe and 30 ml of Calf Start per calf. These two products help to boost the calves’ immune systems and begin to nourish gut microbes for better digestion and better growth.

Dr Dettloff recommends giving all calves 15ml Calf Start in their warm milk for the first week. After that the temperature of the milk is not so important. Continue giving Calf Start for another two weeks and by that time they should be over the period of susceptibility to scours.

Dr Dettloff attributes many cases of calf scours to feeding cool or cold milk to calves and feeding them from nipples that are too low. For the first week, at least, they need to have their chins up while nursing to ensure the warm milk goes into the abomasum where it belongs, not into the rumen before the rumen is ready to receive it at about 7 to 10 days. Milk in the rumen before 7 days causes fermentation instead of digestion and can cause serious scours cases.

All the usual things about clean pens, good airflow etc. are recommended and also free access to:

  • sea or natural mineral salt
  • quality hay
  • humate powder
  • bentonite powder
  • ad lib, their choice access to milk 24/7

If you want robust, long lasting heifers you MUST FEED THEM as naturally as possible. Calves naturally nurse 7 to 10 times a day and will consume 10 t 12 L of milk by week 3.

If calves do come down with scours, continue to feed them milk with Calf Start in it, but increase the Calf Start dose to 30ml/ day along with 30 ml of Aloe. Give each scours calf 2 ml CEG Tincture in the mouth twice a day. Dr Dettloff does not recommend switching to only electrolytes but suggests continuing to feed them milk.

Give calves the option of being out in the sunshine on good grass, as early as possible. They need the sunshine, fresh air and exercise to thrive.

More reading:
Failure to Cycle

Rearing Calves
Retained Membranes