How to Raise a Calf
Raising pets such as dogs, cats and birds is a very common thing. But, have you ever thought about raising calves? Where cats, dogs, and birds are small in size, calves are seven to eight times bigger than them. Hence, they require special care and ample land to grow on.
If you have come across a calf without its mother and you don’t know how to raise a calf? You’ve come to the right place. Because we will share all the teeny tiny possible details related to raising calves. But first of all, you need to know all about cows.
Cows belong to the ‘Bovinae’ sub-family of the ‘Bovidae’ family. Bovidae family also includes bison, gazelles, buffalo, antelopes, goats, and sheep. Cows are mainly domestic animals. Calves are raised for many reasons such as milk production, for meats such as veal, beef, and for materials as leather hide.
In the natural environment, the calves are attended by their mothers right from the day they are born. But when the calf is orphaned, it is the duty of the owner/caretaker to take care of the calf. So here we are sharing some pointers about how to raise calf?
The orphan or newborn calf raised by humans is known as bucket calf. Raising calves is a four-part process, which is discussed below.
Feeding the Calves
Get Calf Bottles and Nipples-The bottle’s nipple is similar to the mother’s teat which triggers the natural instinct of the calf to suckle. That is why you must have a teat and calf bottle so that it does not affect the feeding habit and style of the calf.
For Raising Calves Start with Colostrum– As the human babies require breast milk, similarly the calves need colostrum or their mother’s milk. That is because the colostrum contains antibodies that are ideal for developing a strong immune system.
If fresh colostrum is not available, a replacement can be obtained in frozen form from the nearest dairy farm. If you are giving frozen colostrum, the temperature should be high enough, to dissolve the fats. Do not overheat as it destroys the antibodies.
Switch to Milk-Calves require milk for the first month or so of their lives. There are several options available for milk such as:
Cow’s Milk-if your cow has given birth recently, use its milk. The cow produces an adequate amount of milk to feed their young.
Replacement Milk-Before giving replacement milk, you should keep few things in mind. The formula should not be too hot; the temperature should be high enough to melt the fats present. So that it is easy for the calf to absorb them.
Goat’s Milk-if neither of the above options are available, try to give goat’s milk. Goat’s milk is light and easily digestible for the calf.
Create a Feeding Schedule-Scheduling the feeding time is a vital part of raising calves. Usually, the best feeding time for calves is early morning and evening. Start slowly with half bottle, gradually increasing to full feedings. During winters give them three feedings.
ENSURE THE WELL-BEING OF THE CALF
Look For Signs of Stress- If you have recently transported a calf, it is likely possible for the calf to feel left out or stressed leading to illness. So once they are at your home try to keep the routine similar as it was, then gradually mold them as you want. A stressed calf develops illnesses such as scours, so you need to be very careful.
Watch For Scouring-How to raise calf? This question is most common among farm owners. Is there any foolproof method? Well, let us tell you, there’s no foolproof method. The only way of raising calves is, to observe the symptoms and behavior of the calf.
Scours can be lethal for the calf. If your calf is suffering from scours, immediately start treatment with fluid therapy. Give lots of water and electrolytes. Take preventive measures against the cold, to avoid excessive stress.
Vaccination And Deworming- Providing a healthy environment and nutrition is a vital part of raising calves. Keep the record of the vaccinations that are to be done. Make sure to give deworming medicine on a regular basis to keep the calf healthy.
WEANING YOUR CALF
Offer Hay – Weaning is referred to, when a calf stops depending solely on liquids, and start eating solid foods. Keep the hay ready for the calf, few days after they are born. Keep the account of hay, the calf is eating when it starts weaning. The calf should eat at least 1 1/2 pounds of hay per day.
Slowly Reduce Milk- Slowly replace the milk with water. It is done over a time period of two weeks. You can also use “calf starter” food for transitioning from milk to solid foods.
Replace Milk With Water- After two weeks only give water to the calf along with grains and hay. Do not be tensed if your calf is crying for the bottle, even after you’ve weaned them.
INTRODUCING CALF TO HUMANS
Teach Them to Lead- The very first thing to teach, while you are raising calves is to lead. To prepare for the process, gently pet the calf while it’s drinking water. You can also put a halter around its neck and lead it towards the bottle, to motivate it. Try not to tug hard if the calf is not moving. Instead, apply pressure from behind. Always be patient while using the halter to teach them for leading.
- Groom Your Calf- Grooming is one of the ways to teach the calf, to be handled by humans and to keep them clean. Flies and lice are common with the calves.
It causes itching and results in irritation. Use a good quality shampoo for bathing and a scotch comb for combing the hair. When giving the bath make sure to keep the pressure low to medium, so that you do not frighten the calf. Be very careful while grooming the calf, so that you don’t frighten it.
Show Them Some Love- Strike the sides, udder, and belly of the calf to show them some love. This teaches it to get close to humans.
Calves are big animals. They need more land to roam around and more food and extra care. A healthy and happy calf will grow into a good milk-producing cow. There’s no 100% correct guide that will help you in raising calves.
But patience is the key. Give lots of comfort and love, observe and keep an eye on the signs your calves show. this is why we have shared all the possible important tips. So that you may not have questions about how to raise calf? But have all the possible information about raising calves.