Rearing a calf begins before birth by giving the cow a clean, dry area to calve, and then immediately after birth identifying the calf with an ear tag or neck strap, dipping the naval cord in iodine, tattooing both ears, making a record card for the calf and recording its birth weight. A calf needs a colostrum feeding within two hours of birth. Owners should dehorn a dairy calf within 10 days of birth.
A calf needs a clean, dry and well-bedded pen. Barns should be well-ventilated but free of drafts. A calf becomes unwilling to lie down in its pen when the pen needs cleaning and rebedding. The calf also needs free access to clean, fresh water.
A calf needs to eat calf starter once it lives in its own pen. Good calf starter includes 20 percent crude protein and contains ground corn, rolled oats, molasses, limestone and trace mineralized salt. A calf also needs Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E supplements, as well as terramycin or aureomycin antibiotics. A newly weaned calf eats 2.5 pounds of calf starter per day.
An owner must regularly vaccinate and deworm the calf. Common vaccinations include brucellosis, IBR, PI-3, BVD and 5-way Lepto. The owner should also take height and weight measurements at five months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months and 24 months of age to ensure that the calf is growing properly.