What's Best for Rearing Dairy Calves — Two or Three Feedings Per Day?


Early care and feeding frequency of dairy calves leaves a lasting impression on your herd. Just how significant feeding frequency is on eventual productivity of your dairy cows may surprise you, however.

In this interview filmed at the 2014 World Dairy Expo, Donald Sockett, of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Madison, summarizes a recently completed feeding study that linked three-times daily feeding of newborn calves to better calf health and better growth rates. What’s more, the more-frequently fed calves had production and health advantages that carried through into their reproductive and milking careers as well.

Sockett describes the study where calves were fed the same weight of feed but split either into two or three feedings, and explains the surprising results witnessed all the way from the heifer barn to the milking parlour. “96% of the calves fed at the three-times rate entered the herd as a lactating animal…only 80% of the two-times a day group (did),” he says.

What’s more, Sockett says the added labour of adding an afternoon feeding is easily balanced by the lower incidence of sick calves and argues the extra “work” in the first 49 days actually saves you time. The findings are so compelling, he says, that within 5 years or more years three or more feedings will be the new industry standard.

Follow this link for more coverage of the World Dairy Expo!

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