A calf exhibiting “normal” posture.
A calf exhibiting “normal” posture.
This Tip of the Week is brought to you by the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association
Feeding calves a satisfactory quantity of high-quality milk replacer or pasteurized milk at least two times a day should be initiated after the first day of life. Calf starter grain should be introduced and delivered consistently by 1 week of age.


Developing this solid feeding foundation early is important. The calories contained in foods such as starter grain and milk replacers are crucial to the well being and longevity of the calf.


Calories are needed by calves to grow and maintain a healthy life. Calves are able to obtain calories from milk/milk replacer and calf starter. Calves require approximately 2,000 calories a day in order to maintain a healthy weight. Calves utilize approximately 400 calories for feed processing. To maintain a consistently healthy weight, it is recommended to feed a calf at least 2,400 calories per day.


As seasons change, the feeding habits for your herd should also change. Similar to extreme heat, cold weather can be very stressful on your calves. Generally, they require more energy to produce additional body heat in colder conditions. As a result, there is a need to increase caloric intake. 


Providing the necessary extra calories from protein, fat and lactose will ensure these energy needs are met. Failure to adjust feeding with the weather may ultimately lead to your calves becoming sick, stressed and may even slow down the growth rate.


The DCHA Gold Standards recommends working with a nutritionist to help formulate rations and to monitor routinely. Additionally, it is necessary to keep your herd veterinarian informed of rations for all ages of heifers.