About Our Calves

Tue, May 31st, 2016

We welcome approximately 70 calves to our farm throughout the year and they are always popular with our guests.

Approximately once per year our cows will give birth to a calf. It is in fact necessary for our cows to be pregnant and give birth in order to produce milk.

After Birth

CalfAt birth, calves weigh approximately 70 pounds and are standing on their own in about one hour.

After being born, calves are licked clean by their dams. Their navels are dipped in disinfectant and they are then moved to a hutch for a few days.

Separating the calves allows us to manage how much milk the calf receives.

Because Holsteins are great milk producers, they will produce too much milk for the calf to digest. If the cow and calf remain together, the calf can be overfed which results in the calf having diarrhea, and the mother has a greater chance of developing mastitis.

It also allows us to keep a close watch on their health status and to ensure their safety. Like all newborn mammals, they require excellent care.

Colostrum

The first 3-5 days of their life, a calf receives the colostrum their mother produces which contains all kinds of great antibodies to give them a healthy start. Our voluntary milking system recognizes the mother when she enters and keeps the colostrum in a separate pail for us to feed her calf.

Typically, calves will drink 8-10 litres of colostrum per day during 2 feedings.

Hutches

Initially, each calf will reside in a comfortable, well bedded hutch with a fenced-in area in front of it. This white plastic hutch provides shelter and room for them to move around freely. 

Having a pen to themselves allows us to monitor their health more closely and minimize the chances of them picking up a bacterial infection.

The hutches themselves are lightweight, easy to clean and are bright and airy.

After 3-7 days, the calves then move to a group pen with other calves of similar age.

Until 4 Months Old

After 3-5 days the calves are fed regular whole raw milk from our cows until they are 4 months old. They continue to drink about 8-10 litres per day during 2 feedings. We do not give the calves milk replacer at any time.

We also offer small amounts of grain and hay for them to eat, although milk remains their primary source of nutrients.

During this time, their rumen is developing and getting used to digesting roughage.

Calves drinking milk.

Weaning

At 4 months, the calves are now ready to be weaned from milk. The rumen of the calves has now developed and they are able to digest roughage such as hay, as well as grains. To reduce their reliance on milk the calves are only given one feeding of milk per day, which increases their appetite for hay and grains.

Female and Male Calves

Female calves are raised to maturity at our farm. Once mature at 16 months, they will weigh approximately 1,200 pounds. After having their first calf, they become a member of our milking herd.

Most of our male calves are sold to a neighbour, where they are raised to maturity and then sold as beef. Their move to the neighbours' farm usually takes place when they are approximately 2 weeks old, after ensuring they have received colostrum and are strong & healthy.

Male calves that remain on our farm are raised to maturity and sold through our farm store as beef.

After reading the information, if you have additional questions or comments please feel free to drop us a line at info@mapletonsorganic.ca.

Last updated: February 2023

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