LIC | Choosing your calf

Choosing your calf

Your calf will be your pet, so it’s important that its type and size matches your age and size. 

You will spend hours with this young animal and become very fond of it, so the first step is to ask a farmer if you can have a calf. This could be your neighbour, parents or friends. 

You will need to convince the farmer that you are really serious about having a calf, and that you will love and care for it all the way through to Calf Club. It also helps if you have some idea of the type of calf you’d like – this will help convince the farmer that you’ve done your homework, and make him or her happier to entrust you with one of their calves.

Remember to have this talk before calving starts so the farmer can watch out for the right calf for you. 

Calves for Calf Club are generally heifers (female) and after Calf Club is over they return to become 'just another' of the heifer calves which will grow and become part of the herd.

When choosing your calf, look at the herd you’re getting your calf from so you know what a good cow looks like. Cows have to walk long distances, eat lots of grass, make milk and have calves of their own - so they need to be strong and healthy. 

What to look for?

Looking at the mother of your calf will tell you a lot about what your calf will be like when it grows up – but here are some general guidelines.

  • Size - You need to be able to control it when it is two to three months old, so it’s important not to pick a calf that will be too big and strong.
  • Colour - Generally the colour will tell you what breed your calf is – black and white for Holstein Friesian, gold through brown and black for Jersey, and black or black with brown or white for crossbred. Make sure the calf you choose has a nice mix of colours.
  • Body Shape - Good calves have a straight back, strong neck, sloping shoulders, an attractive head with well-set ears and eyes, a wide brisket (chest),
    strong ribs and straight legs that walk well.
  • Skin & Hair - A fine coat which lies flat will be easy to brush.
  • Good Temperament - A friendly calf will enjoy its life with you and be easier to train and show at Calf Club, rather than one that is shy or nervous.
  • Health - Your calf needs to be healthy and have been fed colostrum (the first milk from its mother) after it’s born
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