Bottle calves, or bucket calves, have been raised on milk replacer and fed out of a bottle or bucket with a nipple instead of being raised with their mother. The process by which a calf stops relying on a liquid or milk replacer diet and begins to eat dry, solid food is known as weaning. This is a relatively simple process that starts by preparing the calf well before it's time to wean at two months of age.
Weaning Your Bottle Calf
Make small amounts of calf starter feed and quality grass hay available to the calf starting a few days after birth.
Measure how much dry feed your calf is consuming. When your calf is eating at least 1 1/2 pounds of calf starter per day, you can start the weaning process. This typically happens at 6 to 8 weeks of age.
Reduce the amount of milk replacer in the calf's bottle over the course of a week until he is drinking almost entirely water from the bottle.
Offer free-choice hay and as much calf starter as your calf will eat until three months of age.
Switch your calf to a less expensive grower ration after three months of age.
- Don't be surprised if your calf bawls for the bottle for a few days after weaning.
- Avoid moving the calf to a new housing, vaccinating or dehorning during the weaning process.