In the dairy industry, dairy calves are typically separated from their mom, the cow, within 24 to 48 hours after birth. Due to centuries of breeding, dairy cows produce far more milk than one calf can drink, and must be milked soon after giving birth for their own comfort and health. Their breeding also means they generally have poor mothering instincts, so the farmer will move the calf a day or two after birth for its own safety. The calf is given time to have its first meal (called ‘colostrum’) with mom.
Calves are then placed in a group housing system with other calves to ensure they are drinking the right amount of milk and staying warm and healthy. The mother cow’s milk cannot be used for human consumption for the first three days and it is stored for her calf and other calves to drink.
Get the full story about how dairy cattle and their calves are commonly raised in Canada.