How to Feed Bottle Calves

Hi, my name is Julia Strike, and today I’m
going to show you how to feed bottle calves in hutches. It is my job to feed almost 20 bottle calves on the farm every day. They are dependent on me to take care of them so that they survive; it is fun having this responsibility! The calves always happen to do something funny while I’m feeding, including occasionally escaping from their hutches then I have to go chase them down! I will take you through my process step by step, and you will see how fun my job is.

Step 1: Gather Materials

To do this, get milk replacement powder
for calves, hot & cold water (a large sink to stir it up in is perfect), something to mix it in (I use a 5-gallon bucket), a stirring utensil (such as a whisk), and a thermometer. Wear weather appropriate work clothes and whatever footwear you prefer (shoes, rubber boots…).

Step 2: Calculate

First, see how many calves need to be fed
then calculate how much milk each calf will get. Example: Say I feed 17 calves; each calf receives 2 quarts of milk. Multiplying 17x2 gives me 34 total quarts. There are 4 quarts in 1 gallon, so 34/4=8.5 total gallons. I use a 5-gallon bucket to mix the milk in, so I technically could distribute the milk in 2 trips, but I don’t want to fill the bucket so full that I spill, plus if it’s too full I can’t lift it out of the sink where I’m mixing it! So I end up taking 3 trips to get it done.

Step 3: Mix the Milk

Now it’s time to mix the milk. Turn on the water and fill the bucket while
dumping in the milk replacement powder (1 scoop per calf). Take your stirring utensil (whisk!) and stir until the powder is dissolved in the water. Stick the thermometer in and make sure you keep the temperature of the milk between 95 and 105 degrees; adjust hot and cold water as needed. Rinse off your whisk and thermometer when done with them and put them back where they belong. If I plan to mix for 6 calves, I will put in 6 scoops of powder. So 6 calves x 2 quarts per calf = 12 quarts…divide by 4 = 3 gallons. I just guestimate how full the bucket is so that it’s about 3 gallons. Any extra milk left in the bucket after feeding the calves I give to the cats.

Step 4: Give Milk to Hutches

After the milk is ready, lift the bucket
out of the sink, give some milk to the cats who are meowing at you obnoxiously, and go outside to the hutches. Some of the hutches have either a red line or a red “x” on them; the line means that calf only gets milk once a day, and the “x” means that calf doesn’t get milk at all. Give milk to as many calves as you mixed for, then go back and repeat the mixing process until you have fed all of the calves.

Step 5: Give Water to Hutches

After giving milk to all of the calves,
rinse out the milk bucket, then go around again to give the calves water.

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