Calf feeding: how to feed a calf at home? How much milk to give a newborn? Calf Feeders

After birth, the calf needs special care. It is very important to ensure the optimal maintenance of the animal and the observance of the feeding rules - only in this case it is possible to achieve the growth and full development of heifers and gobies, which will allow them to be used in the future to obtain good milk yield or use for breeding purposes.


After the birth of a small calf, it should be placed in a crate with a thick layer of straw at the bottom, most often it is placed directly in the barn if it is dry and heated. If there is a draft and high humidity in the pen, it is better to place the cage in some other place.

In order for an animal to grow up healthy, several rules are followed in caring for it:

  • at least twice a day, the lounger should be cleaned of manure, wash out all dirt and replace the bedding;
  • feeding containers should be washed after use;
  • on the first day, a newborn calf should drink colostrum in small sips, so it is best to feed with a drinking bowl with a teat;
  • if there is no such device, you can water a young calf from any bucket, having previously moistened a finger in the mother's colostrum to indicate to him where the container with milk is;
  • as soon as the calf learns to feed on its own, the bucket is fixed to the wall and colostrum is poured into it from the outside.

Immediately after birth, the calf must drink a large amount of colostrum within an hour, the volume of which should be approximately 10-15% of its own weight, for example, a 30-kg calf needs 3 liters of drink. Due to the weakness of the calves at this moment, they often cannot drink the required amount, so they often use a drencher with a probe to infuse liquid. Such manipulations allow the animal to provide a good daily gain and create the foundation for a strong and strong immunity.

Two main methods are used for further feeding the calves.

  • Sucking - in this case, the calf drinks directly from the udder. This option is preferable, since the food is obtained already completely ready for consumption, it does not need to be heated, poured into a sippy cup and all sorts of other manipulations are performed. It has been proven that young animals develop 30% faster with natural feeding. This way of feeding newborn cows and bulls is relevant mainly in the household.
  • Drinker - usually resorted to in cattle farms during the first 2-3 weeks of an animal's life. To implement feeding, drinkers with nipples are used: they are filled with colostrum, then heated to 37 degrees and given to babies. This type of feeding is used in large farms in order to be able to control the amount of food consumed.

If the animal is kept on a farm that sells milk, then the appearance of a calf often leads to financial losses, since part of the production is spent on drinking. That is why the calf there receives the mother's milk it needs for only 3 weeks, and then it is gradually transferred to substitutes - they are a nutritional mixture that is as close as possible in composition to cow's milk.

Nevertheless, no matter how high-quality it is, the product requires preliminary preparation before serving - if the technology is violated, the bulk of the vitamins and trace elements will simply decompose before the calf enters the body.

To prevent this from happening, they use a milk taxi - a device for diluting the feed mixture, delivering it to the barn and dispensing it to calves. All this significantly automates the work of personnel and, accordingly, reduces the cost of calf feeding.

Diet and diet in the first month of life

Competently organized feeding of calves from the first days of birth is very important for their further growth and development rates.

The feeding scheme for newborns is as follows:

  • within an hour immediately after birth, the baby is fed with colostrum, the feeding itself is carried out 5-6 times a day;
  • from 7 to 15 days you can feed him with milk alone - 4-5 times a day;
  • starting from 5 days, vitamins are added to milk;
  • from 20 days gradual accustoming of the calf to rougher feeds begins.

On the very first day after calving, the cow does not give milk, but colostrum, which is a substance with a high concentration of proteins, antibodies, minerals and essential vitamins. Colostrum plays an important role in the formation of the immune system, prevents the development of infections in young animals, which is why it forms the basis of the diet of calves after birth. It is fed to young animals in a paired state, first, 1 liter 5–6 times a day, slowly increasing the single dose to 3 liters.

If in the very first days of a calf's life, the colostrum received from the mother is not enough for him, you can make it a substitute. To do this, add 4 chicken eggs and 15 grams of fish oil to 1 liter of warm fresh milk, stir well and give the baby 250-300 ml until the colostrum itself, and on the fifth day and further - milk.

It is very useful to give the calves a prefabricated milk taken from several adult cows. Typically, these mixes contain more essential elements, which is especially important for weak calves. Therefore, when there are several adults on the farm, the question of feeding the newborns disappears by itself.

In order for all digestive processes to normalize as quickly as possible, young animals from the second day of life begin to drink - they are given up to 1.5 liters of ordinary water. As a rule, feeding with colostrum lasts no longer than 4–5 days, then the cow has milk, and from the age of three weeks feeding becomes even more varied.

Accustoming to roughage usually begins at 21-25 days, boiled potatoes are taken as a nutritious feeding. At such a moment, milk, as before, is included in the animal's diet, but its volume is gradually reduced.

At the age of one month, you can start pouring hay into the feeders - it must certainly be chopped so that the young animal does not prick itself, it is advisable to moisten it with saline in order to prevent the appearance of parasites.

At the age of two months, concentrates begin to be introduced into the diet of calves - usually they are given a mash of cake and wheat bran. If the animal was born in the hot season, then fresh grass is actively introduced into the diet.

How to accustom to compound feed?

Scientific experiments have proven that the use of dry balanced feed allows you to quickly grow strong, powerful and strong animals.

In small farmsteads, the owners usually prepare soft food for calves on their own, but ready-made starter feeds can be a good alternative to them, which significantly soften the transition of the diet of gobies and heifers from milk to grass, as well as green juicy feed and hay. As a rule, they begin to be introduced in the third week of life, replacing one of the milk intake. Typically, these foods contain:

  • about 40% extruded barley;
  • 10-12% corn;
  • 10-15% of crushed wheat;
  • 5-10% skim milk powder;
  • 15-20% soybean meal;
  • about 5% of feed yeast;
  • 1-1.5% salt and feed fat.

The use of such mixtures stimulates the formation of healthy digestive processes, which subsequently significantly reduces the risk of complications when switching to an adult diet.

In the transitional phase, a little hay is added, starting at 50 g, and gradually brought up to 200 g per day - this usually takes several weeks. Hay must be of the highest quality: it is advisable to take a short one. If it is long, then the young animal will simply refuse to eat it. It is best to mix straw (80%) and compound feed (20%), all this is supplemented with mineral and vitamin complexes.

Further power scheme

Up to 3 months, milk must be present in the diet of a calf, but its share gradually decreases from three weeks. The first replacement of food intake is made, as already mentioned, with the help of starter compound feed, after which concentrate and dry hay are gradually included in the diet. When the calves reach the age of one month, they are offered root crops, silage and green grass, the total amount of such additives until they reach three months should not exceed the volume of milk or its substitute in the animal's diet.

Some peculiarities of feeding heifers and bulls should be noted.

The fact is that females are usually left to get good milk yield, so the diet of a young cow should be extremely balanced. Lack of healthy proteins causes severe growth retardation and developmental delays. The heifer must necessarily receive a large amount of elements such as phosphorus and calcium - these are elements important for the formation of bones and internal tissues.

In the daily diet of calves, cobalt, iodine, iron, as well as table salt must be present.

Take care of the inclusion of vitamins A and D in the feed - they are synthesized from specially irradiated yeast, high-quality hay and ground fishmeal. Do not forget that the full assimilation of vitamin D by the body is possible only with the daily stay of the animal in the open air.

The set of products should consist of different types of feed: cow's milk, food concentrates, root crops, straw, hay and vitamin and mineral supplements.

From 15–20 days, you can already introduce dry oatmeal: you must first sift it, stir it with heated water and feed it through a bottle.

From day 11, chalk and ordinary table salt are introduced - they start with 5 grams, slowly increasing the amount of the additive as the animal's weight increases.

Silage and root crops begin to feed in the second month of life of the heifer, a mixture of alfalfa and young clover with cereals is very useful for the animal during this period, it is advisable to supplement all this with legumes and boiled potatoes.

From the second month, oats can be replaced with corn and special concentrate mixtures. If the animal is forced to be kept in conditions of lack of silage, then this deficit should be covered by an increased volume of root crops.

Before the start of the grazing period, the diet and characteristics of the calves should be revised, if necessary, some adjustments are made to it.

  • From 3-4 months, they begin to reduce the amount of milk in the daily feeding and feeding of calves.
  • Hay, as well as silage, is gradually removed from the diet, replacing it with green succulent grass.
  • With a low quality of pasture vegetation, animals are additionally fed with freshly cut grasses with high nutritional value.
  • From 4 months, in the presence of the required amount of green feed, part of the root crops and food concentrates are removed from the daily diet.
  • Keep in mind that very young heifers should not be driven out to a common pasture, as this entails the likelihood of infection with helminthic infestations.
  • Cows older than 6 months in the cold season in most cases are given silage, straw and hay, in the summer - succulent grass. To maintain the full development of the animal, concentrates are left in the diet, as well as mineral and vitamin supplements.
  • Upon reaching the age of one year, it is already possible to start giving spring straw, it is necessary to supplement it with feed of other species. Root crops are given to animals older than a year as a whole, before that they are crushed.

When compiling an optimal diet for heifers, it should be borne in mind that by 16-18 months the animal should weigh about 350-400 kg. It is important to avoid obesity of the cow, which is often observed if the heifer is fed with concentrates alone. At this age, the proportion of concentrates should not exceed 2.5-3 kg per day.

At 16-18 months, the heifer is usually inseminated. If she has not gained enough weight 3 months before calving, then she is fed intensively with concentrates, but 7-10 days before the expected calving they are completely excluded.

Young gobies raised for slaughter are usually fattened up to 16–20 months, and in the last 3 months, intensive feeding begins - usually by the time of slaughter, the weight of the animal reaches 450–500 kg.

Often, the lack of feed in the farm forces to slaughter young gobies before reaching this age, but this should not be done, especially if the animals were born in the spring. The abundance of natural food in the summer will allow them to quickly gain the necessary mass.

Bychkov are fed milk for up to six months, constantly supplementing it with other products. Animals born in spring, instead of roughage, are given green mown grass, grazing on a leash - this allows you to significantly save concentrate. For one-year-old animals, at least half of the diet must necessarily be silage, subsequently its share increases, and the feed itself begins to give in a smaller amount. In the summertime, animals 1-1.5 years old can only be kept on pasture without the use of food concentrates.

Before slaughter, the concentrate is returned to the menu - the daily amount of this product should be about 6 kg per day, which is due to the requirement for rapid weight gain. If you need to save compound feed, you can replace it with food industry waste such as brewer's grains and stillage - they contain a high percentage of protein.

Vitamin Supplements

The most important vitamins for the calf's body are A and D; when they are deficient, irreversible processes occur, which most negatively affect the general condition of the animal and its subsequent productive qualities, but other substances are needed by the young body no less:

  • vitamin A - is necessary for animals to improve immunity and accelerate growth;
  • vitamin D - contributes to the formation of the skeleton, in conditions of its shortage rickets develops;
  • B vitamins - needed to convert energy and improve metabolism;
  • vitamin E - protects cells from oxidation.

With vitamin deficiency in the body of calves, inflammatory processes often develop, which eventually turn into chronic pathologies with a severe course.

So, with a deficiency of vitamins:

  • A - the mucous membranes of the eye dry out, appetite worsens, the animal stops growing, lameness often occurs;
  • D - leads to deformation of teeth and bones, causes joint pain, weakness;
  • B - coordination of movements worsens, swelling of the joints becomes more frequent, the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract worsens, all signs of depletion of the calf's body appear;
  • E - leads to paralysis and lameness of young animals.

Vitamin supplements are used to avoid adverse effects.

We present to you a small overview of the most popular dietary supplements for calves.


    This drug is widely used by veterinarians for the prevention of hypovitaminosis, it is equally effective both for calves and for other types of farm animals. The preparation contains vitamins A and E, as well as D3. Usually it is used intramuscularly, but the addition of an additive to feed mixtures for young animals is also popular.

    For calves, a dosage of 2-3 ml of vitamin is recommended once a day for a week (in the case of intramuscular administration) or adding 3 ml of the composition to the feed during a month.

    There are no restrictions on the use of drugs and feed mixtures - it is exclusively a vitamin complex without a pronounced therapeutic effect.


    At its core, this is the most common food supplement, but in comparison with most other similar preparations, it is much more effective, which is confirmed by almost fifty years of practice of using the powder.

    The active ingredient here is vitamin B12, as well as chlortetracycline hydrochloride - they are prescribed both as a prophylactic agent and for the treatment of many cattle diseases, such as escherichiosis, bronchopneumonia, gastroenterocolitis and pasteurellosis. Biovit is taken together with food, dosages are calculated in accordance with the instructions, depending on the weight of the animal and its state of health.


    A highly effective drug, popular in animal husbandry for the prevention of hypovitaminosis, as well as for the prevention of rickets and osteomalacia. The active components of the composition contribute to the accelerated healing of ulcers, as well as damage to the skin and mucous membranes. It contains retinol, tocopherol, thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinamide, pantothenic acid and a set of amino acids. The drug is administered exclusively intramuscularly at the rate of 2-3 ml per animal in the femoral or cervical area.

    As a preventive measure, injections are given every 3 weeks.


    Vitamin complex "Gavryusha" provides the body of a growing animal with all the necessary minerals, vitamins, micro- and macroelements. Thanks to this feature, taking the drug will allow you to achieve a significant increase in the weight of the animal with a simultaneous reduction in feed mixtures. "Gavryusha" has proven itself well as a means of improving the appetite of an animal.

    The product is rich in B vitamins, as well as retinol and vitamin D3, the effect is enhanced by manganese, zinc, iodine, cobalt and iron.

    The drug enters the body along with food.


    This is a rather interesting complex, the active components of which are extracted from the spleen of cattle, therefore it contains nucleoside, peptides and many other bioactive compounds that help to increase the immunity of the animal and form its healthy hormonal background.

    The main purpose of the drug is to increase the average daily weight gain and increase resistance to external adverse factors, accelerate the development of young animals.

    The owners of large farms involved in the sale of meat usually set themselves the task of raising a herd that meets certain criteria, which is why many resort to the use of drugs that cause the accelerated growth of the animal.

    Usually, such drugs are introduced into the diet starting from the 21st day of the calf's life , thanks to their use, heifers and bulls grow much faster, while due to the mild anti-inflammatory effect of the additives, they lead to a decrease in the overall morbidity.

    Among the advantages of such drugs are:

    • almost instantaneous development of the animal;
    • calves switch to hay feeding much faster;
    • the appetite increases;
    • the body recovers better after previous diseases.

    Some farmers add antibiotics to their feed, but this is not recommended, since with prolonged and uncontrolled intake, such drugs often cause liver and heart pathologies.

    What shouldn't be given?

    The feed given to the calves must be of exceptionally high quality; it is best to take mixtures with extrusion. It is very important to observe hygiene and cleanliness when feeding - the udders of the cows must be washed, the dishes from which the calf feeds must be cleaned and sterilized.

    You can feed young heifers and gobies only with those products that are recommended for inclusion in the animal's diet - there should not be anything superfluous there. It is strictly forbidden to give the animal:

    • hay with signs of mold and decay - this leads to the most severe pathologies;
    • bread and bakery products - this leads to fermentation in the intestines, stimulates the development of putrefactive processes;
    • a mixture of beets and potatoes - it provokes bloating.

    On the pastures where the calf grazes, there should be no buttercups, dope, belladonna and other poisonous plants.

    Remember that only proper and balanced nutrition ensures increased growth and development of the calf, therefore, the future milk yield, breeding value, quantity and quality of the meat obtained largely depend on the observance of all the necessary recommendations.

    See below for the intricacies of feeding calves.