Putting Calves on Feed - Frequently Asked Questions

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 What type of feed should you supply to calves?
Calves should be fed high quality, long-stemmed, palatable hay that most closely resembles the pasture they came from. Feed should be offered free-choice for the first week or so. Also offer them 3-4 lbs/hd/day of grain until they are all eating consistently. Once they are consuming the grain well, build the daily intake up to 1 pound of grain per 100 pound of calf weight. If you want them to eat silage, you will have to mix it with the hay until they get used to the taste.

Does creep feeding while on the cow help to get calves on feed quicker?
Yes, because they will be familiar with the creep feed, and it is easier to get them to eat feed that they are accustomed to.

What should you watch calves for?
You should check calves 2-3 times per day to make sure they are all eating and drinking. Low intake or feed refusal can be an early sign of sickness. Sick calves should be treated accordingly.

What can you do to decrease stress at the time of weaning?
Attempt to keep weaning stress to a minimum to promote healthy calves with good weight gains . ‘Fence-line’ weaning and ‘two-step’ weaning are ways to reduce the stress after separation from their mothers (see the links below). Newly weaned calves may not eat processed feeds. Stress causes them to eat much less and malnourished calves can result in sick calves. Processing calves just prior to weaning will also compound their stress. Castrations and dehorning should be done a young age and if vaccinations need to be given, they should be done at least two weeks before weaning. And as always, slow and quiet movements during handling will also reduce stress.

The Weaning Two-Step
Creep Feeding

Prepared by Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Karin Lindquist.
This document is maintained by Marie Glover.
This information published to the web on October 29, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on May 15, 2018.