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 CalfStep 1
Make small amounts of calf starter feed and quality grass hay available to the calf starting a few days after birth.
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.
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.
Offer free-choice hay and as much calf starter as your calf will eat until three months of age.
Switch your calf to a less expensive grower ration after three months of age.
Items you will need
- Calf starter
- 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.
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