Optimised calf feeding strategies - promoting the health and development of young calves

Once the calf has been given a good foundation with colostrum, it is important to follow this up with a suitable feeding phase.

For a long time now, science has been focussing on the optimal feeding of calves in the first few weeks of life. There are a large number of publications and recommendations, from which each farm must apply and, if necessary, modify the appropriate system for itself.
Below we would like to give you some brief information on a few aspects of calf feed. The term milk can also refer to milk replacer as well as whole milk.
  • Restrictive
    The calf is offered a quantity of milk appropriate to its age and state of health during the feeding period. The animals are fed at least twice a day, often three times a day (morning, midday, evening) and the drinking buckets are cleaned after each feeding.
  • Ad libitum
  • The calf is offered unlimited quantities of milk from day one. The drinking buckets remain at the accommodation for this purpose and are only removed for a short time for daily cleaning. The calf is free to decide when, how often and how much to drink.
  • Acidified whole milk and yoghurt drinks
    Cow's milk is acidified using additives. This makes the milk more durable and is particularly suitable in combination with the ad libitum drinker.
  • Drinking phase and weaning
    The drinking phase or drinking period is the period during which the calf receives milk. This includes the period from exclusive feeding with milk to feeding milk in parallel with solid food. Weaning is the process of preparing the calf to stop receiving milk and exclusively eat solid food.    

Feeding bucket and teat

From the first day of life until the milk is weaned, particular care must be taken to minimise infection and germ pressure. Around half of all calf losses during the rearing phase are due to diarrhoea. Particularly with ad libitum feeding, the hygienic cleanliness of the trough or teat is an important factor.
We recommend allocating a separate feeding bucket to each calf. We offer ready-made systems with buckets, valves and matching teats, but you are also welcome to customise your own feeding buckets.

At the end of the drinking period, the bucket and feeding valve should be thoroughly cleaned. The teat should be replaced after each calf.

To ensure that each calf receives its own bucket with teat, the calves may be temporarily restrained in the group housing for the time of drinking.

We would like to introduce a few products to you here.

blauer Hygienesauger

Blue Hygienic Teat

The blue hygiene teat from Kerbl has a proven germ-reducing effect, which is achieved by the addition of silver. The reduction in pathogens is therefore 14 times greater than with a conventional calf teat.

FixClip-Ventil und Tränkeeimer

Feeding bucket

Another innovative product from Kerbl is the FixClip valve. With only a few components (valve flap, valve body and clip), the valve can be mounted or dismounted very quickly and easily on the feeding bucket.

Die Deckel halten einfach Schmutz vom inneren des Tränkeeimers fern und verlangsamen das Auskühlen der erwärmten Tränke.

Cover for Feeding Bucket

The covers simply keep dirt away out of the bucket interior and slow down the cooling of the heated drinking trough. The feeding buckets can be attached to to mounting brackets. The MilkGuard cover closes completely so that flies and rainwater can no longer find a way into the inside of the feeding bucket.

Die Auswurfsicherung Bucket Guard verhindert, dass das Tier den Tränkeeimer aus der Eimerhalterung auswerfen kann.

Bucket Guard

The bucket guard prevents the animal from tossing the feeding bucket from the bucket holder. Available in two versions for retrofitting to calf housing.

Watering of whole milk or milk replacer should be done at a temperature of about 38° Celsius. A temperature that is too low can cause the milk to coagulate too slowly in the calf's stomach, leading to diarrhoea. Excessive heating, on the other hand, can damage the milk's ingredients.

Kälbermilcherwärmer SuperHeat und SuperHeat Digital

SuperHeat and SuperHeat Digital

Only Kerbl offers the innovative calf milk warmer SuperHeat and SuperHeat Digital. Both the analogue and digital versions of the calf milk warmer have an external temperature sensor, unique on the market. The temperature sensor enables rapid heating without clocking and precise temperature measurement in the milk. With the SuperHeat Digital, you are informed acoustically and visually when the set temperature is reached.