Raising Dairy Calves

Dairy Calves

With calves now hitting the ground thick and fast. Ensuring colostrum intake within the first 12hrs of life and maintaining good hygiene is key to getting your future stock to weaning in good health and condition.


Studies have shown that around 50% of dairy calves fail to suckle naturally directly after birth, limiting colostrum intake in the important first 12hrs of life. After this time, antibody absorption drastically drops off until 18-24hrs after birth when the gut closes and treats all intake as feed to be broken down before absorption.

Calf Sheds

Adequate ventilation (preventing ammonia buildup), good bedding that drains, maintaining a sick pen and separating into small groups are the basics.


Many diseases cause scouring in young calves, but only a few respond to antibiotics. Early detection is important as most can be resolved with fluid replacement (electrolytes), However severe cases require aggressive veterinary care, or they invariably die.

What can you do

  • Always include a colostrum dose for fresh arrivals into the shed. Ideally, 2L in the first 6hrs, then another 2L by 12hrs post birth.

  • Monitor closely those that miss getting colostrum within the first 12hrs of life. They are at high risk of scouring and amplifying any disease already present in the shed.

  • Run a sick pen and be strict about separation

  • Electrolyte replacement involves interval feeding of 2L electrolytes followed by 2L milk during the day with the last feed before bed being electrolytes.

Warkworth Veterinary Services Ltd

We are a seven vet mixed practice, serving the greater Warkworth and Wellsford regions, from Puhoi in the south to Maungaturoto in the north and from east to west coast in between.