Six steps to weaning calves off the bucket
There are six key target areas to successful weaning of your bucket-reared calves. Planning for successful weaning from milk to solid food starts from the time the calf first arrives on the farm.
Many February and early March born calves will be weaned in the next few weeks - the key area targets to be met at weaning are:
• You need to target the birth weight of the calf to double within eight weeks. Therefore a 40kg calf at birth needs to be at least 80kgs at weaning. To ensure the calf reaches this milestone, up to 750g of milk replacer in six litres of milk per day needs to have been fed.
The calf needs to have 24-hour availability of fresh clean water, straw and a fresh palatable good quality concentrate of 18pc protein. Water is essential to replace fluids that are being used up in the body. Milk should be seen as a food source and not a drink.
• Calves must be consuming at least 1kg of concentrate per day for at least three consecutive days.
Concentrates are important to develop the rumen, and to replace the milk in the diet.
To replace four litres of milk replacer (500g of milk powder) your calf will need to eat an extra 1kg of concentrate per day.
Gradual or Abrupt weaning