Calf eating concentrate after 8 days

The bull calf in this video is spontaneously eating haylage (kuilvoer), even when he can drink much-much milk from his mother. I expect him to drink certainly more than 6 liters per day.

The calf is 8 days old. He was born on Sunday and I filmed this the first following Sunday. Yes, it is one of my own calves.

This shows that young calves will start eating solid feed in the first week. And perhaps too that the amount of milk they drink has very little influence on this. The more solid feed a young calf eats, the more resistance it has against certain types of diarrhea (ie coccidiosis), the better it grows and the better it is prepared for weaning.

In the Netherlands we also use the name “dry feed” for solid feed. What I like about this name, is that it is immediately clear that young calves must also drink water to be able to eat dry feed.

This calf was drinking enough milk so he did not need any extra water. Calves housed individually without their mother need fresh water starting from the first days of their lives.

Vetvice & CowSignals say: feed every calf as much colostrum as you can, from it’s own mother. After 3 or 4 days feeding colostrum, you can switch to milk or milk replacer plus fresh water. Practical details are described in my recently published, fully updated book Young Stock Signals.

I expect to see this bull calf to start ruminating when he is around 21 days old. The first time I see him ruminating, I will video it and post it to you.

Have a good day!

Jan Hulsen.

It's YoungStock Signals week!

Young stock rearing costs around 3 cent per liter of milk on a well-run farm, as against 5 cent on a poorly run farm. To rear top-quality heifers cheaply and with minimum input of labour, you need to approach every stage of the process correctly. Work logically, carefully and cleverly. Our books and training takes you through the whole process of rearing young stock.
More info on book Young Stock Signals >>
Next open day training June 15th >>

Comments (1)

Tamara Fretz

Hi Jan,
thank you for this video. In a day course about dairy management where calfes stay with theire mother or "step-mother", we learned, that they already start with 3 days eating hay. They learn it from theire mother by watching. But that you can learn this, you need a "teacher"...
I will soon visit a farm, where they started last year that mother and calfes meet each other few times a day. It will be interesting.
Greetings from Switzerland

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