Calf growth needs don’t end at weaning, as a dairy calf’s rumen is only partially developed at this stage.  And, a fully developed rumen is critical for the proper digestion and nutrient absorption of the heavy-forage based diet of a dairy cow. 
Often producers may notice a growth slump in their dairy calves immediately following weaning – even after a good nutritional foundation.  Land O’Lakes Purina Feed offers insights to this challenge and suggests how to best combat this calf development problem: 

  1. Calves are transitioned quickly on to a high proportion of forage, supplemented with little or no grain, but at this stage the calf isn’t ready for a high forage diet.
  2. The calf’s body can’t digest and absorb adequate nutrients and energy from the amount of forage she can consume, and growth rate suffers.
  3. Calves from 12-24 weeks of age are still able to more efficiently convert feed to healthy gain.
  4. Post-weaned calves should maintain a high-protein grain diet up to 10 lbs/day, with plenty of fresh water at all times, with clean hay provided free-choice.
  5. This program helps extend and enhance the effects of a good, healthy feeding program.