Calf care quick reference guide

An easy way to keep track of numbers and goals when implementing technology in caring for your dairy calves.

In caring for dairy calves, we have a lot of exciting technology available to use, however keeping track of all the numbers and goals can be overwhelming. Michigan State University Extension has compiled a quick reference guide for the barn or the office where calves are being cared for.



Brix score is a reliable estimate of colostral IgG’s and is used as an indicator of colostrum quality.

Brix Score

Quality Level


       > 22


Use for first feeding



Use for second or third feeding

       < 17


Use for calves over 24 hours old


Whole milk total solids can be checked for consistency and to ensure waste milk is within the recommended total solids range of 12-18 percent. Each milk replacer each has a unique formula to calculate total solids (check with manufacturer), however consistency can be monitored.

Total solids

12- 18 percent

Brix score

10-16 percent


Less than 2 percent variation


Check serum on healthy calves 24 hours to seven days old to determine the incidence of failure of passive transfer as an indicator of the colostrum program.

Serum Total Protein


≥ 5.2

90 percent of calves

≥ 5.5

80 percent of calves

Calculating Total Solids in Milk Replacer

Percent total solids= weight of powder/weight of total solution


8.33 lbs/gallon

16 oz = 1 lb

3.79 L = 1 gallon


8.6 lb/gallon

4 quarts = 1 gallon

8 pints = 1 gallon

Example tag directions: Feed each calf 12 oz (0.75 lb) of powder in a volume of three quarts (0.75 gallons) total solution twice daily. The calculation is: 0.75 lb powder/ (8.6 lb/gallon* 0. 75 gallons) = 11.63 percent total solids

When mixing milk replacer, ensure that the powder is added to the warm water before the final volume is reached otherwise the final mix is more dilute due to increased volume.

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