Friday, September 11, 2015

Water Intake at Weaning:
Intensively Fed Calves

Research on weaning dairy calves provided the opportunity to very accurately measure water intakes. Because the sample size was very small (n=10) we must be somewhat careful in generalizing to all intensively-fed calves. 

The calves were fed 26-16 milk replacer mixed at 15% solids at the rate of 8.5 quarts (8L) daily. That's 2.6 pounds (1.2kg) of powder a day. The calves were raised in a naturally ventilated barn. Given the research design I was able to conclude that the calves were raised in non-freezing weather - probably between May and September. 

Daily water intakes were: [water free access]

Age of calf  Quarts (Liters)
Week 5          0.6 (0.6) - still drinking 8.5 quarts milk replacer
Week 6          1.5 (1.4) - still drinking 8.5 quarts milk replacer
Week 7          3.7 (3.5) - milk replacer cut back to 4.25 quarts at 49 days
Week 8          9.5 (9.0) - no milk on day 56
Week 10      11.7 (11.1) - this is second week after full weaning

The main point of passing on these data is to emphasize how important it is to provide free access (ad lib.) water at weaning time. During weaning when milk replacer was cut back to one-half these calves drank 150 percent more water than the week before. 

For the weaned calves the research team had to provide two 8-quarts pails for water for each calf to be sure they did not run out of water! 

I used to switch to a 5-gallon pails tied to the hutch at weaning time for my calves so they did not run out of water between my AM and PM feeding times - especially during hot summer weather.

There are 10 resource sheets on water and water feeding at The one comparing weight gains for intensively-fed calves with and without free choice water is HERE.

E. Eckert and Others, " Weaning age affects growth, feed intake, gastrointestinal development, and behavior in Holsten calves fed an elevated plane of nutrition during the preweaning stage." Journal of Dairy Science 98: 6315-6326 (2015).

1 comment:

ABLTechnology said...

Hi, it is great information. Thanks to share with us. Keep it up to share such information about dairy farm that would be helpful for many people.

Milk Production