Feeding Jersey Calves

General Recommendations:jersey calf

  • Always feed colostrum, the more the calf gets before 6 hours of birth the better

o   Aim for 4 litres within 6 hours and then another 2 litres before 24 hours

o  Colostrum can be fed for several days and there is some evidence that colostrum after 24 hours still has some immune benefits

o  Consider colostrum replacer, such as Calf’s Choice Total, as a part of a strong calf program

  • Transitions are always difficult but can be dangerous in smaller calves

o  When moving from colostrum to milk replacer, start milk replacer offerings slow – the calf must adjust to the new feed

o  Liquid manure is common throughout the entire milk feeding period, just watch for watery manure and signs of illness such as lack of energy, dull appearance, coughing etc…

  • Sanitation is critical to a good calf management program

o  Wash feeding utensils daily (optimally after each feeding) with warm soapy water

o  All utensils should be left to dry in an area that isn’t near animals

o  Bedding should be dry and changed

o  People handling calves should wash hands or use gloves – especially if having handled cows

  • Jersey calves are smaller

o  Smaller stomachs require frequent feedings to allow a calf to properly digest its feed

o  Nutrients are energetically expensive for the calf to digest (it takes a lot of their energy to break nutrients down and absorb)

§ If too many nutrients are provided at once, the calf’s stomach will become overwhelmed and milk will either travel back to the rumen and cause bloating or it will pass right through the calf and cause nutritional scours

o  Without nutrients a calf will not grow and develop, so it is best to design the feeding schedule to MAXIMIZE nutrient uptake

§  Smaller meals frequently keeps the calf well fed and allows for nutrients to be broken down and absorbed

The recommended feeding schedule below is  based on 150g/L of Grober High Performance milk replacer.

This feeding schedule was developed through NRC, 2001 based on the energy requirements of a typical Jersey calf.  Intakes should be adjusted to meet individual calf needs

Age of calf Litres of milk replacer Feedings/day
Day 1 Colostrum
Day 2-7 1.5 – 2L Minimum 3
Week 2-4 2.5L Minimum 2
Week 4-6 3L Minimum 2
Week 7-8 3L 1 feeding less than before

More milk can be offered to Jersey calves starting week 2 then the feeding schedule above permits as long as multiple meals per day are also offered.  Automatic calf feeding machines are a good option for allowing the calf many meals in one day.