*** FEED DAIRY - Feeding Calves and Replacement Heifers

   Feeding Calves and
   Replacement Heifers

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    Calf Feeding: Birth through Day 3  

  1. Calves must receive at least 2 quarts of high quality colostrum within one hour of birth and another 2 quarts within the next 12 hours. Milk the cow or thaw frozen colostrum in warm water to feed the calf. Use an esophageal feeder if the calf will not consume sufficient colostrum.   

  2. Feed calves 2 quarts milk from the dam twice daily for the next two days.

    Calf Feeding: Day 4 through Weaning

  1. Mix and feed milk replacer according to label directions.

     • Cow’s Match Milk Replacer – highest quality, all‐natural milk replacer

    • MFA 22‐20 Milk Replacer – a high quality, all‐natural milk replacer

    • MFA AAA 18‐21/NT Milk Replacer – acidified, all‐natural milk replacer

  2. Provide fresh, clean water and MFA Stand Out Calf Starter or MFA Dairy Calf Starter from 3 days after birth and continue on a free‐choice basis. Keep small amounts of calf starter available and offer by hand immediately after feeding milk replacer.

  3. With scours, dehydration is the “calf killer.” Electrolyte solutions should be given to combat dehydration. Continue feeding, but allow two hours after giving fluids before feeding milk replacer.

  4. When calf starter consumption is 2 lbs. per day for 3 days in a row, calves are ready to be weaned Target: 6 weeks of age.

As a general rule, for a traditional herd replacement program, expect to use one 50-lb. bag of milk replacer and one 50-lb. bag of calf starter per calf.

    Heifer Feeding: Weaning to 300 lbs. 

  1. Free-choice calf starter until consumption is 5 to 6 lbs. per head per day.

  2. Continue feeding 5 to 6 lbs. starter, or after two weeks weaned, start feeding Trendsetter Developer and introduce high quality forage. 

    300 lbs. to Calving 

  1. The following MFA Feed products are suitable for supplementing forages in the developing heifers’ diet:

    1. Trendsetter™

    2. Cruisin™

    3. Cadence™

    4. Cattle Charge™

  2. Breeding age should be 14-15 months with Holsteins weighing at least 800 lbs. and standing at least 50 in. tall at the withers. 

  3. To reach a heifer growth target of at least 1350 lbs. by 24 months of age, heifers need to gain about 1.75 lbs. per day. However, heifers do not have to gain 1.75 lbs. each and every day. In situations where pasture and home-grown forages are used, they may not provide the nutrient level for target growth. MFA Cattle Charge w/BT or MFA StockGuard w/BT are quality, flexible products that can be full-fed to heifers following periods of lower than desired growth rates to effectively and economically “catch them up” without getting heifers too fat.

  4. From 4-6 weeks prior to calving, heifers can be fed the same as dry cows. 

For more information, contact Janice Spears at

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