Feeding Calves

  • Mix milk powder prior to feeding, not the day before as settling can occur and milk can go off from bacterial growth creating a source of infection.
  • Store opened bags of milk powder in a dry, cool, rodent free environment to avoid contamination or spoiling.
  • Mix powder thoroughly in warm water. Add milk powder to half the final volume, mix well and then top up to the required volume with warm or cold water as required.
  • Use a thermometer if you are unsure of correct temperatures.
  • Always use clean fresh water.
  • Rinse and clean all equipment thoroughly after every feeding and disinfect equipment regularly. Ensure teats do not become blocked.
  • Increase feeding levels in stages making changes every third day to prevent nutritional scours.
  • Warm milk, as opposed to cold milk is desirable as energy will not be consumed heating cold milk up to blood temperature for easy digestion.
  • Do not overfeed, under or over concentrate milk powder. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Be observant at feeding. Teats may block, bullying may occur in compartment feeding, watch for slow feeders.
  • Ideally, use a compartment feeder for the first 3 weeks, especially when feeding concentrated milk, as in the once a day system.
  • Ensure a consistent feeding time, preferably with the same person feeding the calves.
  • Ensure that clean ad lib water is always available, especially when feeding concentrated milk as in a "once a day" feeding system.

Calf Milk Replacer Feeding Instructions

Twice a day feeding

Suggested feeding rate and volume - mixing rate150 grams/litre

Age Volume per feed* (150g/litre water) Grams per feed Grams per day
0-4 days Colostrum fed ad-lib    
5-10 days 2.0 litres 300 grams 600 grams
11-21 days 2.5 litres 375 grams 750 grams
22 days to weaning 3.0 litres 450 grams 900 grams

* Add CMR to 1/2 the 'volume per feed' and mix thoroughly. Top up with water to correct volume and temperature

  • Calves are usually fed in the morning and again in the evening, or ad-lib.
  • As a guide, 8 hours should elapse between feeds.
  • Mixing concentration is constant throughout the rearing.

Once a day feeding

Age                 Volume per feed*                Grams per feed Grams per day
0-4 days Colostrum fed ad-lib    
5-10 days 1.0 litres twice a day 300 grams 600 grams
11-21 days 2.0 litres once a day 600 grams 600 grams
22 days to weaning 2.5 litres once a day 700 grams 700 grams

* Add CMR to 1/2 the 'volume per feed' and mix thoroughly. Top up with water to correct volume and temperature

  • Once a day feeding systems work by restricting the feeding volume and increasing the concentration of the milk. This encourages the earlier consumption of concentrates, whilst the full nutritional requirements are met.
  • Because low volumes are fed it is critical to use a compartmentalised feeder to ensure an even accurate intake.
  • Calves can be weaned off milk at a minimum of 65kg and / or when consuming 1kg of concentrate. Continue to feed concentrates at the rate of 1.5 - 2.0 kg/day for the next month or until 100kg liveweight.
  • Later weaning will contribute to a greater increase in growth rates.