Feeding Weaned Calves
Usually dairy calves are weaned at around 8 weeks old although assuming you are keeping the babies with their moms to nurse out on pasture as most beef producers do it will be very different. If you are buying weaned calves to start it depends on what age and what feeds the farmer has been using. I can tell you what we do with dairy calves that we separate from their mothers immediately...At 8 weeks they should be eating at least 2 lbs of calf starter (specific grain) a day but you want them to have it free choice, always making sure they have access to grain. They will consume more grain as they grow and by 3 months they are likely to eat 4-6 lbs of starter a day. Usually, around 3 1/2 mos we'll start mixing in a heifer grain with the starter until they are only eating the heifer grain. Alot of farmers will not introduce hay into the diet until they are on the heifer grain at around 3 months but we offer them access to good quality hay from the beginning. We like to give them a taste for it and they seem to like to chew on it and it also keeps them from eating their bedding at times.We don't give them alot (maybe a couple of handfuls) while they are still on starter so that they don't fill up on hay (they don't actually have a fully functioning rumen to digest the hay until around 3 months of age so the hay is of very little nutritive value until then.) After 4 month they should be fully digesting and breaking down hay so you can give them it free choice and cut back on grain...although I'd still give them about 4 pounds a day (more if your hay is of poorer quality). I'm sure that it will be different for you with beef breeds and depending on the age that you buy them at but I just wanted to give you an idea.