How to Raise Calves

The calves are here!  The calves are here!

Last summer, we started the tradition of getting a few calves from our dairy for the kids to raise.  CHORES!!

On a normal morning, heifer calves get picked up from our dairy and go to a farm 5 miles south of our main site.  Along with the calves, all of our ‘dump milk’  gets picked up too.  (Any milk from a cow that is receiving medicine cannot be sold, but it certainly doesn’t go to waste.)  I really need to break down and get a smartphone, because the vehicle that our heifer grower uses is an old ambulance.  I would have loved to have a camera to catch a photo of that!

So, anyhow, this was not a normal morning!  The calves were going home with us.


Liv, meeting her calf for the first time.

First, Vince and I (along with long-time employee, Eddie) had some vaccinating to do on some 20-24 month old heifers, but I will blog about that some other time.


The first milk a calf receives is called colostrum. A mother is able to pass immunity to offspring in this manner.

Tonight, our calves will receive milk replacer.  It would be really good if we could feed them dump milk from the dairy, but this is so much more convenient.  I guess milk replacer for calves could be compared to formula for babies.


The shirt of a calf feeding boy!

At our dairy, we typically have 2 heifer calves each day.  Can you even imagine naming 700 calves???  We don’t.  As kids, we named all the calves on our farm, and I can still remember paging through a baby-names book.


Vince brushing his calf. He named her ‘Crazy’, because she was so rambunctious for only being 15 hours old.

Chores, for now, begin with using a pitchfork to move any manure from the pen to a wheelbarrow.  Then, the calves each get a bottle of milk.  At this young age, a calf can be very hungry for one feeding and not very hungry at all the next.   The work increases in a week or two when they will need water and feed, as well.


After hearing what her brother named his calf, and seeing the calm demeanor of her own, she thought the name “Lazy” was fitting. So there you have it, Crazy and Lazy.

I will post updates as our chores will change as the calves grow and mature.  We will keep them until the school year starts again, at which point they will join the rest of their herd-mates.

Do you have any questions about how we farm?  I am really looking forward to June Dairy Month, and would love to have all my posts in June be “answers” to your “questions”.  So yes, that definitely means I would love for you to ask me a question!!!

Also, I invite you to see some other farm photos through Midwest Dairy’s PinTourist contest, running now through the end of June at Pinterest.  One random ‘tourist’ will be chosen to receive a $200 grocery gift card, as well as a prize pack from Midwest Dairy.


5 thoughts on “How to Raise Calves

  1. Ok, I shouted, “NO WAY!” when reading that your heifers are transported via old ambulance – it’s the yellow Ashton one, yes? JUST THIS MORNING I said to the kids (as it passed us on our road), “What is the deal with that old ambulance that we see all the time? I just can’t figure out what it is doing!” Ha! Obviously I just wasn’t asking the right people. 🙂


  2. We don’t milk anymore but Chris bought some bull calves for fair. There is an open class that they3rd graders can show a calf. In June there is a dairy show for heifer calves but we aren’t doing that. we have 5 calves right now.


  3. Sounds like the perfect summer project. 🙂 Everything is so clean & tidy too. Have fun w/ Lazy and Crazy!

    P.S. Sometime you definitely need to post a photo of this ambulance.


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