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How to Mix Commercial Milk Replacer for Calves

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Written by Sharyl Stockstill   

Commercial milk replacer for calves can be purchased from any animal supply store. There are various manufacturers including Purina and HiPro. Commercial milk replacer for calves comes in three different formulas and can be purchased in either 25 pound bags or 50 pound bags. Calves should normally be fed twice daily for the first three months of life.

Step 1

Prepare the bottle and nipple by washing in soapy water and rinsing in hot water. Bottles for feeding calves hold one half gallon of formula. Calves can actually drink the bottle down within minutes once they have been trained to nurse from the bottle. Newborns will take a bit more time and you may have to hold them in the proper position during the first few days. Bottles need to be thoroughly washed and sterilized to remove any residue that may cause spoilage. About once a week, be sure to rinse the bottles with a bleach solution to help combat bacteria.

Newborn calves need to be started on colostrum to help combat disease. You can get colostrum from local dairies. Colostrum is the first milk a cow gives after giving birth. It is a nutrient rich, thick, yellowish fluid. The calf needs two feedings of straight colostrum before slowly changing the calf over to pure milk replacer.

During the subsequent feedings, slowly increase the ratio of commercial milk replacer for calves to colostrum. Start with 1/4 commercial milk replacer for calves, during the third feeding, then 1/2 during the fourth, 3/4 on the fifth feeding, and finally, on the sixth feeding, the calf should be fed straight commercial milk replacer for calves.

Step 2

Prepare the commercial milk replacer for calves by using the provided measuring cup that is in the bag. The measuring cup holds ten ounces of powdered commercial milk replacer. Pour one level measuring cup into the sterilized bottle.

Step 3

Add two quarts of warm water to the bottle. The water should be between 105 and 110 degrees. Snap on the calf nipple and shake well to mix the Commercial milk replacer with the water.

Step 4

Feed the calf the bottle. Be sure the bottle is held at an angle that helps the calf arch its neck properly. Imagine how the calf would look if it is reaching under its mother to nurse. This helps the milk replacer flow into the calf's stomach and not into its lungs. One thing to keep in mind is that as the calf grows, the bottle needs to remain low. Out in the pasture, a growing calf still has to reach under its mother to nurse, and so should a bottle fed baby.

Step 5

Wash and sterilize bottles and nipples after use. In the summer, milk replacer can spoil and grow harmful bacteria. The bottles need to be washed thoroughly and left upside down to dry until the next feeding.

Things You'll Need

Two quart bottle Calf nipple Water Commercial milk replacer for calves Colostrum (Optional)


Always provide fresh water for the calf at all times. Bottles for calves are like bottles for human babies. Place a few drops on your wrist to be sure it is not too hot or too cold.


Calves must be fed twice daily.

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