COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
DIVERSITYY OF FLORIDA DIVISION OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION AND UNITED
STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE COOPERATING
P. H. ROLFS, Director
By A. P. SPENCER
Florida dairymen must produce more cows if they expect
improve their herds. The best cows of well managed herds
e seldom for sale. The dairyman who buys all of his cows is
instantly getting some culls along with the better ones, and
fore he finds out which are the culls these poorer ones eat up
e profits from the good ones. By using only high class
/istered bulls and keeping and developing the heifer calves
om the best producers, the herd can be improved yearly and
entually each cow will be a profitable one. Any one operating
Fig. 1.-Feeding silage in the open trough
Florida Cooperative Extension
a farm in connection with the dairy can raise good heifers u
to a productive age much cheaper than good cows can be bough
In fact, good producers can be raised nearly as cheap as lo,
producing cows or culls of other dairies can be bought.
Raising dairy calves with skim milk and milk substitutes i
practiced very generally in well established dairies. It is alt(
gether too expensive to feed whole milk except to very youn
ones, unless they have exceptional value, and it is useless to e)
pect half starved under-nourished calves to develop into goo
productive cows. A normal development of bone and muscle ca
be secured only by feeding sufficient nourishing feeds to keep th
calf healthy, develop its bone and muscle, and produce enough fz
to keep the body in good vigorous condition. A young animi
should never stop growing. It is not only detrimental to th
growth of the animal, but it takes more time to develop the coi
that has been stunted when a calf.
If fed on whole milk a calf will need at least two gallons c
milk a day or sixty gallons a month. At 40 cents a gallon thi
would amount to $24 a month. A more economical method ca
The calf that is nursed by its mother or allowed all the whole
milk it needs will grow off rapidly, have a slick coat and wi
look much better than one fed on skim milk or substitute.
A young calf should be allowed to remain with the mother fo
two or three days, or even longer if it is weak or the cow's udde
is swollen. The calf's stomach is small and it will nurse ofter
taking only a small amount of milk. This is nature's way o
feeding young animals. The first milk (or colostrum) is easil
digested, laxative, very nourishing and the best food for th
calf whether it nurses or is fed from the pail.
A strong, robust calf can be taken from the mother imme
diately and never allowed to nurse. This is a general practice
with many of the best dairymen. When a young calf is pail-fe
it should be fed three or four times a day at regular intervals.
For the first ten days it should receive whole milk. Two quart
fed three times a day is sufficient for the average calf. For
larger one, three quarts at a feeding may be needed. Each cal
must be fed individually, given a stated amount and not allowed
as much as it will consume. After ten days the whole milk an
skim milk can be mixed together, feeding one-third skim mil
and two-thirds whole milk. Continue this for four to six day
when a half of the whole milk can be substituted with skim mill
Circular 9, Raising Calves
t the end of three or four weeks the whole milk can be omitted
entirely. By making these changes gradually, the calf's digestion
ill not be disturbed. In changing to the skim milk, the amount
should be increased as the calf grows.
Milk substitutes are very generally used for feeding calves
ver two weeks old. They cannot be used without some care and
he calf must become accustomed to them by gradually shifting
rom the milk to the substitute.
Most of the commercial calf feeds are made from a mixture
f clean ground grains, linseed oil meal and wheat by-products.
he oil meal in these is very necessary as it contains vegetable
at which takes the place of the butter fat of the milk and makes
he food laxative. For young calves it is best to cook this with
ive steam, making it into a thin gruel so that it will readily mix
ith milk. Good results are obtained by using pure linseed oil
eal or a mixture of equal parts, by measure, of linseed oil meal,
sifted oats chops, and good wheat shorts. Low grade flour can
be used in place of the shorts, or high grade peanut meal sub-
stituted for linseed meal. This mixture will be somewhat laxa-
tive, probably too much so for some calves. If it proves too
laxative or not palatable one must reduce the amount given until
the calf is thoroly accustomed to it. Once the calf gets well
started there is seldom any trouble.
Beginning with one pint at a feed the amount can be gradually
increased and the skim milk reduced, and when the calf is six
to eight weeks old can be taken entirely off milk and fed on
boiled milk substitutes.
It is not advisable to mix uncooked meal with milk, for if solid
feeds are taken into the stomach without masticating them indi-
gestion is likely to result. It is also advisable to cook the milk
substitute every day, preferably for each feed. It must be
fresh, for if fermented it brings on digestive trouble.
A good way to cook this is to use a ten gallon milk can, con-
necting the steam boiler with the can by means of a pipe or hose,
and turn on as much steam as is necessary to cook it in 15 or 20
minutes. It is difficult to boil such feed over a fire without
scorching it. If a steam boiler is not available, cover the meal
with boiling water, put a cover over this to keep in the steam,
let it stand for 15 minutes, and then add enough hot water to
make a thin gruel.
Florida Cooperative Extension
When feeding, pour the hot gruel into the milk and feed
at about the same temperature as milk when freshly drawl
which is about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Nothing is more apt I
produce indigestion, especially if the calves are young, tha
milk or gruel feeds when fed too hot, too cold, or fermented.
Fig.- 2.-Feeding calves in the stanchion
When the calf is about two weeks old it will begin to eat. If
a small amount of grain is placed in a box and kept before the
calf it will be only a short time before it begins to eat regularly.
A quarter of a pound or less each day will be sufficient for ten
days or more and this can be gradually increased, giving the calf
all it will clean up. The appetite for solid feeds should be'de-
veloped slowly, and not by omitting the milk or gruel in order
to force it to eat the dry feeds. The gruel or milk feeding
should continue until the calf is four or five months old. Calves
will eat most grains that are fed to dairy cows, but the best
results have been obtained by feeding principally corn meal or
whole corn. A good mixture can be made with seven pounds
cracked corn, two pounds wheat bran, and one pound peanut or
Circular 9, Raising Calves
inseed meal. This should be given twice a day and the manger
leaned out before a fresh supply is placed in the trough. When
he calf is three or four months old it can depend pretty largely
n the grain and less on the milk feed, but the two should be
ed together. This should give the calf a good start and when
ix months of age it may be taken off liquid feed and fed entirely
n solid feed. Each calf must receive individual attention. They
should be fed separately from a pail or bucket and the milk
should be weighed or carefully measured. The feeding utensils
should be scalded each time after feeding and kept clean. The
alf should have access to fresh water and salt, should have a
lean and comfortable shelter and should not be exposed to rain
r bad weather.
If a number of calves are kept together, stanchions will be
found useful, and each calf will have a chance to get the proper
allowance. The calves soon learn to put their heads in the
stanchions, making it convenient for feeding the milk or grain.
Calves of exceptional value- should be fed on milk or gruel
until six to eight months of age. This will incur more expense
and labor, but the good start the calf will get means a great deal
towards its future development. Many calves get a severe set-
back after being well fed until three or four months of age, and
then turned out on scanty pasture.
Calves will begin eating grass, green forage, hay or silage
when two weeks old. They will consume about the same weight
of roughage as of grain. This roughage should be supplied just
as regularly as the grain feeds. Roughage to the calf gives bulk
to the feed and satisfies the normal appetite. It also develops
the digestive organs and makes the calf less dependent on the
milk or gruel feed and makes it less subject to indigestion and
scours, when any change of feed or any irregularity arises. Well
cured hay, good silage, or good pasture will reduce the cost of
keeping the calves and will develop them in a normal way. How-
ever, coarse moldy hay or fodder, sour rancid silage or dried-up
pasture are poor feeds for dairy calves, or other animals as for
that matter, and should be avoided.
In feeding silage a grain feed can be mixed with the silage to
advantage. A normal calf should have all the good roughage it
6 Florida Cooperative Extension
SCOURS IN CALVES
This trouble is very common with young dairy calves. It i
usually the result of improper feeding and can be easily con
trolled if handled promptly, but if permitted to continue wil
take months of good care to overcome.
When it occurs, first give the calf a purgative, preferable
using a half teacup of castor oil or raw linseed oil, or two table
spoonfuls of epsom salts. Then omit the milk for one feed an<
reduce the amount of milk one half for three successive feedings
Afterwards bring the calf back to the regular feed gradually
taking two or three days. If this is handled promptly the cal
will quickly recover and begin to thrive.
Lime water may be added to the milk by giving a half tea
spoonful in the feed once or twice a day. This is especially
recommended with skim milk where the milk can not be fec
strictly fresh. It is seldom necessary to use this after a calf i
two months old.
This lime water can be conveniently kept in a corked jug by
placing a quantity of lime in the jug, then fill it up with water
As only a small amount of lime will be dissolved, the jug can
be refilled five or six times or until all the lime is dissolved. The
jug should be kept corked to keep out dust and dirt.
High grade blood meal is also effective in preventing scours
This is mixed in the milk at the rate of one tablespoonful per
feed. It is very generally used by dairymen, especially for
When this form of indigestion is allowed to continue it be
comes chronic. The calf usually has an abnormal craving for
sand, dirt, coarse feeds and woody substances. Very often the
will lick themselves incessantly. These indigestible substances
irritate the stomach and are the main causes of the very unthrifty
calves found at commercial dairies.
A calf that continues to be unthrifty for the first six months
is seldom worth raising.
Common scours caused by indigestion is different from white
scours or calf cholera. This latter disease attacks very young
calves, which get the infection thru the navel cord. Many dairy-
men disinfect the navel of all young calves with a weak solution
of creolin or bichloride of mercury as a safeguard against in-
Calves should have clean stalls or grass plots and good venti-
Circular 9, Raising Calves
nation with food given regularly in the proper amounts and the
eed buckets and mangers kept clean. The frequent use of
isinfectants, especially if the calves are confined to stables, will
ave a good effect in keeping down these troubles and making
By feeding calves the proper amount of fresh milk or gruel
t the right temperature and from clean vessels, and keeping
;hem in clean sanitary surroundings, there should be little loss
from indigestion or intestinal trouble.
Calves should be dehorned before they are two weeks old. At
this age the horn is button-like and not attached to the skull.
If the horns are removed at this age the calf will have a smooth
head, without any appearance of horns when it grows older.
This button-like horn can be removed with caustic potash or
caustic soda. This can be purchased at most drug stores in the
shape of stick or pencil. To apply it, wrap one end of the
caustic potash or caustic soda with paper to protect the fingers,
moisten the other end of the stick and rub it around and over
the small horn. Rub vigorously, especially on the highest part
of the horn and for a small space around the base of the horn
until the skin is broken and it begins to bleed. If this caustic
substance is applied too wet it may run down over the face of
the calf and get into the eyes, which would destroy the calf's
eye and blister the side of head. Before applying, the hair
should be clipped from around the horn with a pair of scissors.
If the treatment is properly applied, it is seldom necessary to
The growth of the calf's horn may be stopped even when it
is considerably older, but it will leave the stubby horn and the
animal will not have a smooth head.