I recently moved from the city to a country setting with four acres. I plan to buy three to four calves to feed. Being a novice, I would like some guidelines as to the care of the animals.
You should purchase your calves from an individual or, if you buy them at a sale barn, be sure that they are from the same farm. You should buy steers (castrated males) or heifers (females who have not had a calf). They should be about the same age and size.
The calves should be preconditioned. That is, they should be vaccinated for respiratory diseases, rabies, blackleg and other diseases as recommended by your veterinarian. They should also be dewormed for intestinal parasites as well as treated for ectoparasites (lice and mange). Ivermectin is an example of an anthelmintic that would cover both external and internal parasites.
The calves should be fed milk replacer and calf starter and offered some hay until about 2 months of age. Generally calves are weaned from milk at 2 months of age and then fed a diet of grain and hay. They will also need to be on pasture or have free choice hay, depending on the season. During the summer they should have insecticide tags for fly control or be sprayed periodically for fly control.
A three-sided shelter windbreak is all that calves need. Do not put them in an airtight building without ventilation because it is conducive to them getting pneumonia.
Always make sure that the calves are eating and drinking plenty of water. If they are not, call your veterinarian right away. Consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about feeding or vaccinations.