Happy New Year! With each new year tends to come a lot of change. We spend time reflecting on the previous year and set resolutions or goals as to how we can better ourselves in the coming year. That’s no different here on the farm. This year we are looking at some rather large changes but today I am going to talk about a change that we dictate but that affects the calves the most. Every 2 months or so, we wean our bottle calves. This is time of great change for them! Not only do we take milk out of their diet, they also move to a different home, and learn to socialize with other calves.
What is that magic level of feed? For Jersey calves, the recommended level of creep feed (a grain mix specially formulated for young calves) intake is 4 lbs. 4 lbs of feed is about 1 large scoop of feed per day. This seems to typically occur right around 6-7 weeks of age.
There are a lot of different methods out there for weaning calves. We like to use a step down process because we think it helps the calves adjust better. This means that instead of cutting the calves off of milk cold turkey, we start by taking away just 1 bottle per day. Meaning the calves still get their evening bottle of milk so that they go to bed with a warm full belly. This lasts for 1 week. We typically see the calves creep feed intake during this week and they also seem to learn what water is! Now, we provide the calves with water from the time that they are 3 or 4 days old and they will splash around in it a bit but very rarely do they drink a significant amount of it until they are 6 or 7 weeks old. And I don’t ever see them empty a bucket in a days time until Week 7, when we start decreasing the amount of milk they get. I speculate that this is because milk has such a high water content that they are able to meet a large portion of their water needs just from their 2 bottles of milk a day. Did I mention that each bottle holds a half gallon of milk?? And that that means, each calf drinks a whole GALLON of milk every day!
At the end of week 7, we take away their evening bottle and at this point they are weaned! That is to say, they no longer have any milk in their diet. They are eating only ever increasing amounts of creep feed and water. After another 3 or 4 weeks we will slowly start introducing hay into their diets as well. However, the changes don’t end there. In order to decrease stress at the time of weaning, we like to leave the calves in their hutches for an extra week if possible. A lot of stressful things occur at this time in the calves lives so it helps them if we can give them time to adjust to each new change.
And since, we are in a new year, some resolutions NP and I have set include:
- Finding some sort of routine that allows up more sleep – as I am typing this at 11pm, I think I have a lot of work to do on this …!
- Engaging more with our audience. That’s you! We want to hear your thoughts and answer your questions so feel free to comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/brunkofarm. You can also send inquiries and comments via email or our Contact Us page!
Here's to a Happy New Year to you and yours!
Brun Ko Farm