10 tips on managing bought-in calves

Buying young dairy-bred calves for rearing is becoming popular once again on many beef farms, according to Teagasc.

It advises that how these calves are managed and fed up until they are weaned off milk replacer is critical to their lifetime performance subsequently.

The experience of the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme in 2015 was that the farms that vaccinated their calves against the common respiratory diseases at purchase tended to have healthier calves.

These calves also had better daily gains throughout the year.

It recommends speaking to your vet about the vaccination programme that would be most suited to your farm.

Teagasc has 10 great tips on managing bought-in calves:

1. Isolate bought-in calves and give them electrolytes as their first feed on the farm.

2. Protein levels in the milk replacer should be 23-26%.

3. Feed 6L per day of milk replacer at 12.5-15% solids.

4. For 12.5% solids, use 125g of powder in 875ml of water to make one litre of milk.

5. Use water below 40 degrees Celsius to avoid damaging the powder.

6. Avoid once-a-day feeding until calves are four weeks of age.

7. Be consistent with feeding times, temperature of milk, concentration and volume of milk.

8. Cleanliness and hygiene are critical.

9. Ensure that calves have an abundance of straw under them.

10. Make sure there are no draughts in the calf shed but, equally importantly, make sure there is enough inlet and outlet ventilation.

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