Calf management

Published 5 January 16

calf management front cover

Raising heifer calves is the second largest annual expense of a dairy business’s production costs, after feed, with no income until the first lactation and no profit until the second lactation. Heifers are the future of the dairy herd and deserve to have the best management that incorporates all the latest research and management advice. In return, they will repay the investment through higher milk production and a longer productive life.

Dairy farmers make decisions every day that can affect the health and welfare of their calves. Research at the Royal Veterinary College has shown that mortality rates of liveborn dairy heifers in their first month of life on GB farms ranged from 0-12%. Some farms achieve mortality rates as low as 0% indicating losses can be avoided when good management practices are in place.

AHDB Dairy have produced this booklet and associated webinars to provide ideas on how to optimise calf performance. Areas that need consideration to rear healthy calves, and thereby keep mortality to a minimum are


Calf Management Thumb

Calf Management Help Films:

Colostrum Feeding

Calf House Hygiene

Monitoring Growth

Colostrum Hygiene

Testing Colostrum

3 Qs of Colostrum Management

Preventing pneumonia in calves

Assessing ventilation

Assessing calf buildings


AHDB Dairy heifer rearing webinars:

The early hours – looking after the newborn calf 

Cryptosporidium in calves 

Best practice vaccination of beef and dairy cattle 

The economics of heifer rearing 

Is all year round calving the best option? 

BVD Free England scheme preview 

Breeding for TB resistance 

Heifer fertility 

The calf environment – getting it right 



Better calf housing

Better management of BRD/pneumonia

Better return from pure dairy bred male calves

Calf rearing notebook