Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How often should I bottle feed a calf

It has been a tied and true fact that calves respond to bottle feeding best when fed twice a day. It is optimal if the calf can be bottle fed every twelve hours. I prefer bottle feeding a calf at 7 am and then at 7 pm but when the clock hands show 6 works good also.

Due to busy schedules, it is not always practical or possible for bottle feeding a calf every twelve hours apart. Most calf raisers can find time in the morning when they start their day and then only have time at the end of the day. This might put bottle feeding the calf at 6 am and then again at 8 pm or even earlier such as 5 pm.

This timing of bottle feeding a calf will work fine as well. The most important key to how often for bottle feeding a calf is: To keep the feeding schedule time the same every day. You can have a few nights or morning an hour or so off schedule, but you want to maintain the same time as best as possible.

You really want the timing of bottle feeding your calf to become a daily routine at the same time every day. This is something you want to give some thought. Your everyday routine may change for some reason like being off work on weekends. You want to pick a time schedule you can live with every day of the week.

The reason why bottle feeding a calf in this same routine day after day is so important is it allows the calf to know when bottle feeding is. The calf will have water, feed, and hay to eat and drink free choice all the time. Meaning it will decide on it’s own when to eat feed or hay and when drink water.
Bottle feeding a calf doesn’t work well if the calf is already full from eating something else. The calf will know and prefer milk replacer feeding. A good strong health calf will run you over to get to a milk bottle punch and be ready to suck. They really enjoy milk.

By keeping the time of bottle feeding the calf the same, the calf will learn or adjust it’s other eating habits for these schedule.  The calf will know what it needs for intake and know not to fill up on other feed sources before bottle times.

If your are off schedule form time to time that is Ok. It is better to be late with bottle feeding your calf then to be early. Sometime if you show up a hour early the calf may still be fill and not want a bottle feeding. Running behind or late for a bottle feeding you have less of a chance the calf being fill. The calf might do some light grazing but knows to room for the milk replacer bottle.