Providing clean, free-choice water to your calves, in addition to feeding a high-quality, high-protein calf starter, is essential for proper rumen development, says Susan Day, young animal technical manager with Land O’Lakes Purina Feed. Bacteria in the rumen require a wet environment to grow. These bacteria create byproducts that encourage the rumen to develop, which enables calves to absorb nutrients from the rumen and achieve optimal structural growth and weight gain. Calves will drink between 1 to 2 gallons of liquids per day, in addition to the water used to mix their milk replacer.

In these hot summer months, monitor water temperature throughout the day, especially in dark-colored or metal buckets, and provide cool, fresh water to your calves. Regularly clean water buckets to prevent mold and algae buildup.