Feb
4
2013
Patty Littlefield
Posted by Patty Littlefield @ 11:34:AM

Just like children, calves need regularly scheduled vaccinations to prevent illness. Part of being a “calf momma” includes maintaining detailed health records on each calf. Keeping calves healthy reduces the need for medications later down the road.

After a few weeks in their little huts, the calves are strong enough to join others of the same age in small groups to mingle and develop their group behavior. They are still bottle-fed and gradually introduced to dry feed while being monitored for weight gain and a variety of health details.

After a few more weeks, they are combined with a larger group with similar feed requirements and activity levels. This process is repeated over the next year until they are mature enough and strong enough to join the main heifer herd. By their second year, they are well on their way to having a calf of their own and becoming the queens of the milking parlor and earning their keep as dairy cows.

It all sounds pretty easy until you consider most dairy farms will have calves at various ages and stages from newborn calves to year-old heifers at the same time — each group requires a different type of care. A “calf momma” has to be organized, gentle and quick on her feet. Some dairy farms have hundreds of calves needing care every day. It’s a big job but extremely important on a well-managed dairy farm.

So, if a dairy wife asks you to help babysit … be sure to ask if she’s talking about kids or calves. Either way, you will be very busy! Each stage of a calf’s growth requires different care — just like raising toddlers and teenagers … life’s never dull.

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