I took some pictures today to show what we do with calves after they come out of the warmer pictured in the last post.
First they go into a large hutch with a heat lamp inside the maternity barn.
We keep the calves in one of these hutchs for a couple of days until they are drinking vigorously from the buckets. Most of the bull calves are sold with in a couple of days of being born, so most of them get sold from these hutchs before they go outside.
Next we move the calves outside in groups of 4. They have a large hut and a corral outside. If it is cold, we put coats on them. This is hopefully the last group that will need coats this year! They probably didn’t need coats, but we error on the side of putting coats on.
The calves could do fine with out the coats, but they would need to spend more energy staying warm. We would rather have them spend energy growing and fighting off any possible disease. We feed them milk out of these buckets for 6-8 weeks. We also feed them grain. Once they are eating grain good we start to wean them off of the milk. They need to be eating grain at this point so that their rumens are developing. If the rumen isn’t developed, the calves will lose weight after weaning, so we try really hard to make sure that they are eating grain before weaning.
We used to raise calves inside of a barn and try to keep the barn warm, but we had to many problems with pneumonia. We have had better luck raising the calves outside year round, feeding them a bit extra and giving them coats.
Once the calves are weaned, they are moved to a large pasture where they are feed hay and grain. They are moved into bigger and bigger groups until they are bred and ready to come back to the barn for milking!