How to Wean a Bottle Fed Calf

By Angie Gentry

Jupiterimages/ Images

Bottle calves, or bucket calves, have been raised on milk replacer and fed out of a bottle or bucket with a nipple instead of being raised with their mother. The process by which a calf stops relying on a liquid or milk replacer diet and begins to eat dry, solid food is known as weaning. This is a relatively simple process that starts by preparing the calf well before it's time to wean at two months of age.

Weaning Your Bottle Calf

Step 1

Make small amounts of calf starter feed and quality grass hay available to the calf starting a few days after birth.

Step 2

Measure how much dry feed your calf is consuming. When your calf is eating at least 1 1/2 pounds of calf starter per day, you can start the weaning process. This typically happens at 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Step 3

Reduce the amount of milk replacer in the calf's bottle over the course of a week until he is drinking almost entirely water from the bottle.

Step 4

Offer free-choice hay and as much calf starter as your calf will eat until three months of age.

Step 5

Switch your calf to a less expensive grower ration after three months of age.

Items you will need

  • Calf starter
  • Hay
  • Fresh water


  • Don't be surprised if your calf bawls for the bottle for a few days after weaning.
  • Avoid moving the calf to a new housing, vaccinating or dehorning during the weaning process.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images
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