Raising a Dairy Bottle Calf

The kids and I decided that they would raise some Holstein calves. So in February, we got three bull calves ranging in age from 3 days to 2 weeks.  We picked up the calves during a bitterly cold stretch.  Within a few days, all three had a round of scours due to the weather and moving stress.

Each of the calves refused to take the bottle at some point while they were scouring. (Scours is diarrhea in calves and is an indication of an infection.  Like any diarrhea, dehydration is a concern if it is not corrected.)  When they refused to take the milk, I mixed up a bottle of electrolytes.  They willingly  took the electrolytes. We also gave them each a shot of an antibiotic to help them as well. The next feeding I reintroduced milk and they went back to taking it.


Calf with scours

Since then the calves have been doing great!  We continued feeding them bottles twice a day for 8 weeks and then switched to bottle feeding them once per day.  We continued bottle feeding for two more weeks before we weaned them.  When we weaned them they were eating grain and hay very well.


The calves now have access to grass and free choice hay in addition to being fed grain.

Feeding bottle calves is a lot of work but it is a great project for the kids.  Most of them enjoy the calves, in fact, we plan to get more calves for them to raise in the future.

If you are going to get any bottle calves it is very important that they receive colostrum during the first hours of life.  Colostrum is the mother’s first milk which is loaded with antibodies to help ensure the health of the calf.  If you buy calves, make sure that the breeders give ample colostrum to the calf before selling it.  Also, make sure that you have a high quality milk replacer to feed the calves.




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4 Responses to Raising a Dairy Bottle Calf

  1. I stopped by to tell you to link up to the County Fair and see that you already have!! Great post Jen! Thanks for joining the party. 🙂

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