DairyFeeding and nutrition


Calf feeding.
• All newly born calves should be fed or allow to suckle colostrum from the mother within 24 hours after birth. This is to improve their immunity.
• Colostrum is the first milk the dam produces after calving, is very concentrated food and disease prevention medicine for young ones and must have as much as possible.
Importance of colostrum.
 Contain antibodies necessary to provide calf protection from diseases.
 They are highly concentrated and nutritious.
 Important for growth and development.
 It creates bonding between the calf and the dam.
Without colostrum, calf will be malnourished, grow poorly and prone to diseases throughout its life hence do not live long.
• Where buckets are used for feeding, clean them thoroughly before feeding calves to avoid infection.
• Milk should be fed at body temperature (37 degrees Celsius) i.e. immediately after milking.
• At 2-3 weeks of age, a calf should be fed 5 litres of milk /day.
• At 4-7 weeks feed 6 litres/day or 4 litres plus 0.25-0.75kgs of early weaning pellets.
• Calf should be provided with good quality hay and fresh forages by third week to enable calf to start developing its rumen.
• Calves should be left to graze on good pastures.
• They should have access to unlimited water and minerals such as magnesium and calcium e. t. c.Calf housing.
• The house must be duly protected from cold, rain and hot sun.
• Should be clean.
• Should be free from ticks and fleas.
• The house should be spacious.
• Calf pen should 1.5m long and 1.2m wide.
• The area should be well drained.

Calf weaning.
• Weaning is done by separating calf from the dam.
• Where calf is already separated from dam, weaning is done by stopping feeding calf with milk.
• Weaning is done to enable the dam to return on heat.
• It is done between 3-4 months of age or depending on weather condition or when 2 and ½ times the birth weight.
• To wean, provide adequate amount of solid feeds e.g. concentrates.

Other routine management practices.
• It is done 2-3 months of age.
• Use dis-budding iron or caustic potash stick.
Removal of extra teats.
• If heifer has more than 4 teats. This should be done 2-3 weeks of age.
• The extra teat is cut with a scalpel blade.
• Done in 2-4 weeks of age (for dairy) and 6-9 months (for dual purpose).
• We use elastrator, burdizzo or open method.
Calf identification:
• All calves should be marked after birth especially when they are many. This is necessary for identification record keeping.
• Ear tagging, ear tattooing and branding can be used.
• It involves use of medicine to kill internal worms.
Dipping and spraying.
• Control of external parasites e.g. ticks using acaricides.
• This involves application of protective medicine to control diseases. Heifer management

Calves are the future generation of cattle hence proper management should be practiced during rearing. Since calves are prone to diseases, hygiene should be observed.

Correct quantities of balanced diet should be fed to calves.
Calves should be graze in separate pastures according to their age group.

Judy Vanessa

Judy Vanessa is an accomplished explorer,a passionate animal health extension practitioner and author. She loves writing about farming articles in various sectors.


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