Myth: Young Calves Don't Drink Water
Yet another calf care person told me that they don't feed water to their calves until they are are around three weeks old. "Why bother feeding water to younger calves? They never drink any."
I was reviewing the findings about the effects of "step-up" milk replacer feeding programs (Quigley, J.D., T.A. Wolfe, and T.H. Elsasser "Effects of additional milk replacer feeding on calf health, growth, and selected blood metabolites in Calves." Journal of Dairy Science 89:207-216. 2006).
The research measured daily water intake for 120 calves from about 4 days of age. The Figure below shows water intake for "Days of Study" that started about at that age. Sorry about orientation - try turning your monitor 90 degrees?
Note how much opportunity for water consumption is lost between days 1 and 21 of days on the study.
Reality? Young calves DO drink water - just not a lot of it. I found that feeding water at body temperature did encourage young calves to drink a larger volume of water.