Editor's Note: This Tip of the Week has been brought to you by the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association.

Several elements contribute to calf stress including weather changes, weaning, handling and medical treatment, just to name a few. Developing and keeping a consistent schedule for calves may aid in reducing some of these stress factors.


Consistency in newborn protocols and day-to-day calf management is essential. Calves should be fed the proper proportions of the same food at the same temperature every day. If calves are being observed, it is important to do so daily and at the same times. It is recommended that calf management be handled by the same person(s) on a daily basis in order to prevent unnecessary stress. Changes in the routine may stress calves, and animals that are stressed are more likely to become sick.


Some suggested newborn practices include:

  1. Keeping your hands and equipment clean, if assisting with calving.
  2. Remove mucus from the calf's mouth and nose.
  3. Rub the calf vigorously if stimulation is necessary.
  4. Examine the navel and place a tie around the stalk if it is still bleeding or more than 2 inches in diameter.
  5. Clean the navel area and apply a navel dip, such as iodine solutions (1, 2 and 7%) or chlorhexidine (0.5%).
  6. Identify the calf.
  7. Move the calf into the calf housing area and do not move again until after it is weaned.
  8. DCHA Gold Standards III recommends feeding clean, high-quality colostrum equaling a minimum of 10% of body weight in the first 2 hours of life.

Having a plan and following it on a daily basis is important. DCHA Gold Standards III strongly recommends working with your herd veterinarian and nutritionist to determine a successful plan that will incorporate these important elements. Investing in a healthy start includes providing your calves with the 5 C's: Colostrum, Calories, Cleanliness, Comfort and Consistency. 


For additional information, please refer to the following: 

The 5 C's

Raising Calves

Calf care consistency checklist