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Selection of Animals

Farm Building


Record Keeping

Sanitation & Hygiene





Body Condition Scoring

Milk Quality




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Management of Calf from Milk Feeding to Weaning

After the colostrm feeding period, the calf is fed a liquid diet which may contain one or more of the following:

  • Surplus colostrum
  • Transition milk

  • Un-saleable milk (contaminated with antibiotics, mastitic milk or milk with unacceptably high somatic cell count)

  • Normal milk
  • Milk replacer

Colostrum and transition milk have the best nutritional value of all liquid feeds available to the calf if properly collected and stored. Colostrum can be frozen or fermented and conserved with bicarbonate.


Milk contaminated with antibiotics can be used but has several drawbacks such as effects on beneficial bacteria and high rejection rates which may slow down the growth.

AA Agro Milking Machine for Dairy Farm Animals

Chapetal Nutrition Dairy Feed Wanda

Mastitic milk, if not contaminated with antibiotics, may safely be fed to calves, but not to such calves that suck each others due to the risk of transmission of mastitis pathogens. Moreover, milk from dairy animals with mastitis caused by E. coli and Pasteurella should not be fed unless it has been pasteurized. Pasteurization of waste milk increases the weight gain of calves, decreases mortality and decreases sick days relative to calves fed unpasteurized milk.

livestock vaccines cow buffalo

Milk replacers are commercially produced or farm produced milk substitutes, which when properly reconstituted with water, have a similar dry matter content as milk.

The economical way of calf feeding is limited milk or milk replacer feeding along with calf starter. Calf starter should be available to the calf preferably during the first week. It should contain 18-20% crude protein and 80% TDN. To encourage intake, calf starter must have a coarse texture with minimal fines to reduce dustiness. Fresh water should always be available to the calf from 3 days of age.

Constituents of calf starter (%):



Ground Maize


Soyabean Meal


Canola Meal


Vegetable Oil  


Rice Polish




Mineral Mixture




Lime (calcium)   




Dairy Lac TMR Feed Wanda Dairy

An economical schedule of calf feeding is given below. In this schedule calf is fed on limited milk along with calf starter. Milk feeding is stopped at the age of two months which is called weaning.


Milk/ milk Replacer

Calf starter



After birth

Colostrums (10% of Body Weight)




1-2 days

2-4 Kg colsotrum (10% of Body Weight)




2-4 days

Milk/milk replacer (10% of Body Weight)




4-7 days

Milk/milk replacer (10% of Body Weight)




7-14 days

Milk/milk replacer (10% of Body Weight)




2-8 weeks

Start reducing milk/milk replacer



Soft green fodder

9 weeks

No milk/milk replacer



Soft green fodder

For milk feeding use a bucket with nipple. This bucket should not be placed at floor but at the height of 70 cm.

      calf milk feeding

  Management Procedures during Pre-Weaning Period 

Some of such procedures are identification of newborns, dehorning, and removing supernumerary teats:

  Identification of Calves 

Calves should be permanently identified immediately after birth. Different methods of identification are as follows:

Ear Tags:
Ear tags are the most widely used means of identifying dairy animals. They are made of steel, aluminium, nylon, or plastic. Ear tags are the most commonly used at dairy farms.


       ear tags

Hide Branding:
Hide branding is used for permanent marking and are easily read. A good hide brand is one that is easily read, cannot be easily changed or tempered with, and interferes with the circulation as little as possible.

     hide branding

Neck Chains or Straps:
These are the means of temporary identification of dairy animals. Occasionally, these may be lost. The caretaker should replace each one the same day instead of allowing several losses to accumulate. In rare instances, an animal will hang itself by the chain. Neck chains or straps must be adjusted as young animals grow or as animals change in condition.


This method of permanent marking of animals consists of piercing the skin with instruments equipped with needle points that form letters or numbers; indelible ink is then rubbed onto the freshly pierced area. The tattooing instrument should be disinfected carefully between each operation. A major disadvantage of tattooing as the sole means of identification is that dairy animals must be restrained so that anyone can read tattoo numbers. 


Electronic Devices:
Various such devices are in different stages of research and development. They include the following:

Radio Transmitter in the Reticulum:
The animal swallows a small radio transmitter enclosed in a 1.8 cm x 6 cm plastic capsule, which lodges in the reticulum. From there, it transmits a coded number when signaled by a receiving unit. The transmitter can be retrieved at slaughter and reused.

The transponder can be used on livestock or machines for identification, tracking and theft recovery. On dairy animals, it can be used to identify each individual animal for a grain feeder and in the milking parlour. The transponder consists of an electromagnetic coil and microchip in a glass capsule, which varies in size from a rice grain to a much larger size. The transponder has no power source of its own. A reader emits a magnetic field that activates the transponder so that it transmits its code number. The transponder may be implanted just below the skin of the animal or on a dairy animal's neckstrap. With their common use, transponders may replace other methods of animal identification in the future.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID):
In response to increased concerns regarding disease outbreaks such as foot and mouth in other countries, there has been a concerted effort to create a national identification system that would electronically track dairy animals from birth through slaughter. The goal of the National Animal Identification System in USA is to have the capability to identify all animals and premises that had contact with a foreign animal disease (FAD) within 48 hours after discovery. The system presently being tested integrates both a premises identification system and an individual animal numbering system. Initially, implementation of the new system will be on a voluntary basis, however, the intent is to eventually implement a mandatory system for animal tracking. The system incorporates a RFID ear tag that is placed in the left ear of each animal and a RFID handheld reader that connects directly to a personal computer.


Dehoring/disbudding refers to suppressing the growth of the horn. It prevents injuries incurred in fights between calves and other animals in the herd, ensures docility of the animal, reduces chances of injury to people working at the farm and enhances the appearance of the animal. Early dehorning is recommended, preferably before the calf is two months of age (better at the age 12-15 days). At this age, the horn bud is free-floating in the skin layer above the skull. At some point after two months of age, the horn bud attaches to the skull, and a small horn starts to grow. Calves less than two months of age are easier to handle and lose less blood. Also, the danger of infection and screwworm problem is minimized if calves are dehorned at an early age.

Kernal Universal Dairy feed

Various types of heated dehorners such as electric and gas models are used to burn the tissue surrounding the horn bud. The vessels supplying blood to the growing horn are cauterized. Dehorners are very effective as long as all the tissue surrounding the horn bud is burned all the way through. There is almost no blood loss, thus, there is less chance of infection and screwworm flies. Calf may also be dehorned with caustic potash stick or caustic potash solution. Heifers may also be surgically dehorned later, but this method presents a much higher risk of infection.


  Removing Extra Teats 

Female calves may be born with more than four teats. The frequency of occurrence of extra teats is higher in cows than in buffaloes. The extra teats are usually located posterior to one or both rear teats, but they may be between the front and rear teats on one or both sides of the calf's udder. Extra teats have no real value, rather they detract from the appearance of the udder, and may interfere with milking. They should be removed when the calf is 1 to 2 months of age. There is usually little bleeding if extra teats are properly removed.


  Copyrights Dr. M Jassar Aftab, All Rights Reserved