Principles of good calf rearing

By ACS Distance Education on October 25, 2017 in Animals | comments


Calf rearing is central in both beef and dairy cattle production.

Dairy calves, in contrast, are generally reared artificially. The calf is taken from the cow at four days old so the cow can be milked for the rest of her lactation. The calf is fed from a bucket or a calf milk bar, on full milk or milk substitute. This type of calf rearing is full of difficulties and the mortality rate among calves reared in this way can be high.

The objective of good calf rearing is to produce healthy animals that will continue to grow into suitable dams for vealer herds, suitable steers or heifers for beef production, or suitable replacement heifers for dairy herds.

A good calf-rearing program should aim for:

Minimal losses from disease and death
Good animal performance, optimum growth rate and feed efficiency
Optimal input costs and other operating costs
Minimum labour requirements
Effective utilisation of existing facilities

There is no set or “best” way to rear calves. Different combinations of feeding, housing and husbandry can be successful. What is important is that the producer understands the scientific principles of calf growth, nutrition, health and calf behaviour so they can develop a system of husbandry that can be successfully modified to their own situation.


Learn more about Calf Rearing with ACS Distance Education.