Thursday, April 2, 2009

Caring for Calves

From recent posts on this blog or visits to St. Brigid's Farm you may be aware that we have been through the majority of our spring calving season. It is a busy time! Right now there are about 62 new calves that have been born since the end of January. Paul Smith is a stellar part time worker that is fully responsible for the calf care. Twice a day everyday of the month for 3 months Paul and his granddaughter, Faylyn, tend to the calves like they were their own children. Each day the calves receive 1.5 gallons of pasteurized milk and ad lib fresh water along with a 22% protein "starter" feed until they are weaned at 42 days of age. After weaning the starter feed consumption rapidly increases and by 60 days of age they will be eating 5lbs per day. By 3-4 months of age they are transitioned to a grass diet that will become the mainstay of their nutrition for years to come!

There are many different ways to raise baby calves. In our case the female calves live in a cozy hut and Paul hand delivers the milk individually to each one. For our meadow veal calves they live on a pasture with a nurse cow. In all cases the principles for success are the same. Clean, dry, well ventilated, and proper nutrition.

We thank Paul and Faylyn for the good job they are doing.