Feeding calves is always like walking a tight-rope. You are trying to maintain a balance. As you increase milk or milk replacer feeding volumes, the chances of losing your balance go up. That is, the calves have diarrhea. This requires better management skills.

Key Skills

Be able to feed different volumes of milk to calves. Not every calf receives the same amount. While there a few exceptions most calf feeding programs that feed more than the traditional two quarts twice daily increase volume as calves grow. Lots of folks mark individual or groups of pens to receive a specific amount per feeding.

Be able to feed consistent volumes of milk. This means delivering each feeding within one cup of the intended volume. For example, when feeding three quarts at one feeding the actual amount delivered does not vary more than 2.75 to 3.25 quarts.

Be able to deliver milk replacer mixed at the same concentration at every feeding. A significant step in achieving this consistency is having an accurate set of scales that are used all the time to measure milk replacer powder.

Be able to deliver milk or milk replacer at the same temperature at every feeding. My goal is to achieve delivery temperatures in the range of 100-105 F. In cold weather conditions this may mean delivering liquid feeds in multiple batches.

Be able to observe and diagnose scours in calves. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is always important. Equally important is watching a group of calves the first few days after their ration has been bumped up in volume.

Many folks have observed that it is a good practice to temporarily drop back volume fed for a few days when a calf scours after a ration increase. My personal experience suggests that at least one out of twenty calves will experience what is often called “nutritional” scouring even when volume increases are as small as 0.5 quart per feeding.

To read more of Leadley’s comments on preventing scours with increased milk feeding, visit http://atticacows.com/documentView.asp?docID=4840.