Occasionally a cow dies during or immediately after parturition, leaving an orphan calf to be raised. Also, there are times when cows fail to give a sufficient quantity of milk for the newborn calf. Sometimes there are multiple births.
If there are only a few orphans, usually they can be adopted by other cows, either that have lost their own calves or that give sufficient milk to raise two calves. When such calves cannot be adopted, they must be raised by artificial methods.
Regardless of whether orphans are adopted or raised artificially, the problem will be simplified if the calf receives colostrum (the first milk produced by a cow after giving birth to a calf) during the first 24 hours, and preferably for the first 3 days of life, from its mother, another fresh cow, or from frozen stored colostrum.
Fortunately, orphan calves can now be raised successfully on milk replacer and calf starter ration.