Calf - Early Development

Early Development

Calves may be produced by natural means, or by artificial breeding using artificial insemination or embryo transfer.

Calves are born after a gestation of nine months. They usually stand within a few minutes of calving, and suckle within an hour. However, for the first few days they are not easily able to keep up with the rest of the herd, so young calves are often left hidden by their mothers, who visit them several times a day to suckle them. By a week old the calf is able to follow the mother all the time.

Some calves are ear tagged soon after birth, especially those that are stud cattle in order to correctly identify their dams (mothers), or in areas (such as the EU) where tagging is a legal requirement for cattle. A calf must have the very best of everything until it is at least eight months old if it is to reach its maximum potential. Typically when the calves are about two months old they are branded, ear marked, castrated and vaccinated.

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