Dairy Science Department
BS in Dairy Science
There are many different ways to raise calves on dairy farms in the United States. The way calves are raised can depend on the resources, natural environment and operation of the farm. There is no right or wrong way to raise calves. However, the aim of raising calves is to find the best way to raise a healthy calf so that she will become a productive cow. The objective of this literature review was to determine the ideal management practices for raising a healthy calf from birth to weaning. This literature analyzed numerous articles that covered all aspects of calf management to determine the best practices for raising a dairy calf from birth to weaning. Raising calves can be a difficult task for someone who does not understand the different elements that compose calf management. Articles were reviewed analyzing the best practices for post-partum protocols and colostrum management. Followed by the analysis of environment, water, liquid and dry nutrition, weaning, diseases, vaccinations and dehorning methods. The analysis in this literature review was to determine the best management practices for calves from birth to weaning, especially on dairy farms in California. Following the determination of the best management practices for raising dairy calves, a series of case studies were conducted to determine how farms in California raise their calves. Since California was the main focus for the literature review, the dairies analyzed in the case studies were dairies in the Central Valley. The case studies were brief and only basic questions were asked to determine the vaccination, colostrum, environment, nutrition and weaning protocols. A calf death loss was also provided for the evaluation of productivity and success.