The post birth protocol is an important part of the training process. In situations where it is not possible to leave the calf with the cow for a period of time then it is important to replicate the natural process as closely as possible.

Give the calf a good rub in long firm strokes. This not only dries her off but stimulates blood flow and ‘wakes her up’. Calves are robust but do not cope with a draft so provide a well ventilated space that is draft free. During winter months a heat lamp is a great idea.

When she starts to try to stand up then she is ready to feed. 

Use a Milk Bar Trainer Bottle or Vitality Bottle fitted with a Colostrum Teat with fresh colostrum (or colostrum replacer containing IgG).

If she is up then gently back her into a corner, and straddle her. This settles her to make training easy.

Put some colostrum on your index finger and place in her mouth. Gently press the roof of the mouth to check her suckling urge is strong.

Introduce the Colostrum Teat to the calf’s mouth and use one hand to gently squeeze and release the jaw.

The squeezing action will open the teat and allow a small amount of colostrum into the mouth. As she feels the colostrum she should naturally curl her tongue around the teat and start to nurse.

Some calves latch on immediately and require very little assistance. Others, especially after a hard birth may need a little more help.

Once she is suckling well, you can use a Milk Bar 1. Place the feeder on a rail about 80cm above the ground.

Take the calf to the feeder and straddle her again. This time keep her forward by using your knees behind the ribs. This keeps her forward and without struggling. 

Gently correct her if she comes off the teat until she starts to find it herself. Then you can leave her to feed in peace.

The role of colostrum


A calf’s immune system is not fully developed when it is born. She must rely on colostrum until her own immune system is developed at 1 to 2 months of age.

Colostrum contains the antibodies or immunoglobulins (IgG) to protect the calf from disease.

This immunity is known as passive immunity.

When the calf is born the gut is still ‘open’ so the antibodies are able to pass through the wall and straight to the bloodstream.

By 24 hours the gut begins to close and it is difficult for the calf to absorb the antibodies as the intestine becomes impermeable to large proteins.

Studies have shown that:

  • Six hours after birth, calves absorbed 66 % of the immunoglobulins in colostrum

  • 36 hours after birth calves were able to absorb only 7 % of immunoglobulins.


As well as immunity, colostrum contains approximately 22 % solids, compared to 12 % solids in normal whole cow's milk. Much of the extra solid material in colostrum is immunoglobulin, but colostrum is also an important source of protein, sugar, fat, and vitamins A and E.

Generally a calf should receive 5 to 6 % of its body weight as colostrum within the first six hours of life, and another 5 to 6 % of its body weight when the calf is 12 hours.

For example: 40kg calf receives 4 – 4.8L 


Using a Milk Bar Colostrum Teat has a double benefit during this period. The saliva produced while suckling further boosts immunity and because the action is natural to the calf she is super easy to train!

First Day

From 0 – 6 Hours feed 2 – 2.4L

Key Benefit: IgG Absorption


From 6 – 12 hours feed 2 – 2.4L

Key Benefit: IgG Absorption


From 12 – 24 hours feed 2 – 2.4L

Key Benefit: IgG Absorption

Day 2

From 24 – 36 hours feed 2 – 2.4L

Key Benefit: IgG Absorption


From 36 – 48 hours feed 2 – 2.4L

Key Benefit: Essential proteins and minerals. High fat.

Day 3

Feed over 2 or 3 feeds 4 – 4.8L 

Key Benefit: Essential proteins and minerals. High fat.