All About the Calf

The calf is a term for a baby cow.

While all baby cows are considered calves, there are different types of this animal, each with its own set of traits.

What You Should Know

Among baby cows, there are three main types of calves. There are dairy, beef, and veal calves.

The dairy calf stays with its mother to nurse for a short time. Most farmers choose to wean it and move it to the pasture within a few weeks. These calves eat grass by two to four weeks old. Beef calves tend to weigh more at birth. They will also drink up to a gallon of milk per day.

By the time they are six to ten months old, they are weaned. By this time, they typically weigh up to 450 pounds. Females are usually kept for future breeding while the males are sent to auction or slaughtered. The veal calves are Holstein cows. The females are kept for milk production while the males are sold as veal. They are usually killed between birth and three weeks old.

What Sound Do They Make?

Calves will communicate with their mothers through mooing noises. This is how they get to know one another. There isn’t much difference between the sound of a calf and the sound of a full-size cow.

You can listen to some of the sounds that baby calves make on this audio site.

Group Characteristics

Once the baby cow is born, it builds a strong bond to the mother. Cows even celebrate when a baby is born. They protect the mother and newborn to ensure both animals are safe and warm. Like most mammals, the mother cow carries the baby in her womb before birth. The gestation period lasts for nine months, but female calves typically take longer than the male.

Calves are born with teeth, but they are soft and small. That’s why the mother cow chews food before giving it to the baby.

How Many Are There?

There is no shortage of cows in the world. The World Atlas estimates over a billion cows around the globe. There aren’t a lot of threats to the calf, but they might suffer from some congenital abnormalities. The Akabane virus is one that affects the calf, primarily in the tropical and temperate regions of the world.

Pop Culture

The cow is used often in animation and as a mascot. It’s long been the symbol for dairy products, but the calf is rarely ever used. In some movies, you might find the calf as a supporting character, but rarely in a feature role. Some films that feature cows include Barnyard, Home on the Range and Annabelle’s Wish.

For businesses or as a logo, famous cows include Elsie the Borden Cow, The Laughing Cow, and the Turkey Hill Cow.

Interesting Facts

Most cows only birth one cow a year. Twins do occur about 10% of the time. There are more difficulties when twin calves are born. When one of the twins is a heifer and other a bull, in over 90% of the times, the heifer will be sterile.

Cows make more milk than the calf ever needs. On average, a mother cow will produce between five and 12 gallons of milk each day.

Newborn calves see, stand and walk immediately after birth.

The term calf is used to describe other animals. Other bovid species include the water buffalo, yak and bison. Calves also refer to the young of elephants, hippopotamuses, deer, dolphins, camels, giraffes and elk.

Pauline was the last cow to live at the White House. She belonged to President Taft.