The Dairy industry has a bad reputation in how it deals with unwanted calves, particularly boys. At Over the Moon we are passionate about ALL our animals, including those handsome young males who won’t end up in our dairy being milked.
We have tried to answer the questions we get asked regularly.
How long do you keep new calves with their Mums?
Usually we will try and keep newborn calves with their Mums for approximately two weeks. This ensures they get all the goodness including colostrum, which is produced in the first 48 hours post calving.
Why do you remove calves after two weeks?
There are 3 main reasons;
1. Calves follow their mothers into the dairy during milking, where they can be kicked by other cows and injured from getting squashed against dairy shed and rails.
2. Calves can be aggressive feeders and occasionally can tear their Mum’s teats with their teeth. If this happens it can be very painful for the cow.
3. Most cows are excellent mothers, but some cows are not. They lose their calves, do not protect them from predators and simply walk off and forget about them.
Hand rearing a calf has many advantages
The calf gets very used to human company and looks forward to twice daily contact. Once they get used to being fed from a bottle, they become very friendly and easy to handle. It enables us to keep a close eye on the calf and make sure they are thriving and growing as they should be. We can monitor the amount of milk each calf gets by hand feeding, and all calves get a good supply of rich Jersey milk, not a powdered milk replacement. They are offered free access to hay and grain, which they become interested in at around 2-3weeks and continue to consume more as they grow. They also have access to plenty of pasture during the day and a warm stable at night. At around 12 weeks they have developed their digestive systems with hay, grain and pasture that they don’t need milk anymore and are weaned. They are put out in a big paddock and still fed hay, grain and trace minerals to keep them growing well into healthy adults.
What happens to the girls?
As we are growing our herd we have been keeping all our girls in order to keep up with demand. Occasionally we come across a very passionate hobby farmer and we have sold one or two over the years, but only to homes where we know they will be loved and well cared for.
What happens to the boys?
We always care for our boy calves exactly the same way as the girls. This means lots of care, attention and milk!! Once weaned from milk, anywhere from 10-12 weeks we do either of 3 things with our boys:
- Keep them and grow them up to sell as Bulls to other dairies or Jersey breeders.
- Keep them to grow up for home consumption.
- Sell to Hobby farmers, where we know they will be well looked after.
Want to know more?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can answer your questions.