Ever Bucket Train a Calf?
Many calf feeders use buckets rather than bottles to feed milk to young dairy calves. All of us who have bucket trained calves know that it is a labor-intensive procedure.
This study of 1,235 calves observed the bucket training process.
They found these rates of "Adoption" by the calves:
(percent drinking by themselves)
Day 2 = only 10%
Day 3 = up to 55%
Day 4 = up to 85% drinking by themselves
Day 5 = up to 92%
Now here is the tough part:
Day 6 = 92%
Day 7 = 92%
Day 8 = 92%
This is getting old - these "holdout" calves are breaking my back!
By day 14 this study still had a few calves that were still requiring some kind of assistance.
Remember, however, by day 8-14 we could easily have calves that have been drinking by themselves that now have health issues., maybe a little dehydrated. You know, they are alert, lying on their belly but need encouragement to get up to drink and then need me to fuss with them to finish their milk meal.
Maybe it is not realistic to expect 100% of the calves in the first three weeks of age to dive into their milk bucket and lick it clean.
Reference: Mandel, D. and Others, "Predictors of time to dairy calf bucket training." Journal of Dairy Science 100:9769-9774 December 2017.