Normal weight gain

For the dairy folks and/or beef folks with questions about udders, milk and mastitis.
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Normal weight gain

Postby MikeJoel » Mon Apr 24, 2006 9:45 pm

I have read that a calf should gain over a pound a day, is this correct?
Being our first calf and cow I have attempted (with equipment on hand) to note the calfs weight gain and so far it looks like 5 or 6 pounds for the first week.

Normal or should it be better?

Thank you

PS. Great to have this area of the forum. Thanks milkmaid until you mentioned it in a different post I didnt notice it here.
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Postby milkmaid » Mon Apr 24, 2006 10:09 pm

Dairy calves tend to have a little lower gain than beef calves do. 5-6lbs a week comes out to a little less than a pound a day which is a little low, but I wouldn't be too concerned at this point where she's only a week (?) old.

I have one holstein heifer about 60 days of age right now that I'd place around 200lbs. She had about a 70lb BW which brings her to a little over 2lbs/day gain on the cow. I'm sure she hasn't gained that much every day of her life, but once they get going they can really take off.

Beef calves are bred to gain fast and efficiently, dairy calves not really, LOL. I wouldn't worry too much about weight gain at this point so long as it looks like she is gaining.
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Postby J and L » Tue Apr 25, 2006 9:27 pm

The biggest thing that beef calves have over dairy is having their own 24 hour milk bar :) Dairy calves can gain as well on the accelerated programs that feed ramp up to a gallon of high protein (28%) replacer twice a day. Downside is that the cost is about $15/bag higher in price and you use almost twice as much.

Remember that weight is relative-- if you feed weigh her right after feeding she will be 4# heavier-- so you are really looking for trends that don't go backwards or slow down. Graphing age vs weight is the easiest way to track this.
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Postby randiliana » Tue Apr 25, 2006 10:33 pm

Yes, a calf should gain over 2# a day. That is ON a cow, and we have had holstein bull calves gain almost 3# per day when we have grafted them onto a cow. Now, most calves LOSE some weight shortly after birth, heck even human babies do that!! Just think of all the stress of being born and learning how to adjust to everything.... Within about a week or so they should start to gain weight. So, as long as she is healthy, eating and perky don't worry about weight gain for a while yet. If she isn't getting enough to eat, she will start to look dull (hair/eyes) and her sides will be sunken, and she won't be very bouncy or perky.
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