Before a heifer calf grows up to be a cow in the milking herd, she will be taken care of for two years either on-farm or on a calf ranch. These little ladies are fed a nutritious diet starting with colostrum to help build their immune systems. They then move on to milk and hay.
When the calves are eating enough solid food to sustain their growth and have developed a stronger immune system, it's time to start the transition to group pens. This process can be really exciting but also stressful so it is done in a manner that keeps calves comfortable.
Transitioning calves in small groups help decrease stress. Just as starting a new class might be stressful for a child, calves can be overwhelmed if transitioned too quickly.
Their new pens have lots of room to move around and play, access to shade, and water at all times. The pens are also bedded daily so they have a clean and comfy place to lay down and rest.
Employees monitor transitioning calves to ensure they are eating, drinking, and socializing appropriately. Just as a parent keeps track of their own child's development. Lack of growth and socialization could be cause for concern and needs closer monitoring.
Calves will learn their new feeding schedule and continue to eat their specially formulated diet (ration) to continue proper growth and development. This diet is put together by a cow nutritionist and ensures they are getting all their vitamin, mineral, protein, fat, and fiber requirements.
You may even see a couple who were neighbors in the calf barn, eating lunch together. 💓