Milk Intake for Young Calves
Yesterday I came on some additional data on milk intake among young (weeks 1-3) dairy calves. Calves were fed ad lib milk either by nipple pail or automatic computer feeder. The data below are averages with the first values in US quarts and the second values in litres. Variations among calves were large.
Auto Feeder: Week 1 = 5.4 (5.1); Week 2 = 7.1 (6.7); Week 3 = 8.6 (8/1)
Nipple pail: Week 1 = 5.3 (5.0); Week 2 = 7.3 (6.9); Week 3 = 8.8 (8.3)
Comparisons of Weeks 1, 2 and 3.
Auto Feeder: Increase from Week 1 to Week 2 = 31%; increase from Week 1 to Week 3 = 59%
Nipple pail: Increase from Week 1 to Week 2 = 38%; increase from Week 1 to Week 3 = 66%
When given the opportunity healthy young calves will increase their milk intake rapidly in the first three weeks of life. I feel comfortable recommending that early in the first week feeding rates be increased to 5 to 6 quarts per day.
If the farm experiences significant diarrhea problems when these amounts are offered to young calves I recommend reviewing this resource: Feeding more milk without scours .