I have a heifer calf that is very small for her age. She was born to an old cow who didn’t produce enough milk to feed her. She was put with a cow that had lost her calf. Will ever catch up weight-wise, or will she always be stunted?

This calf is behind the rest of the calves because of low energy intake. If the calf has not been severely stunted, it will begin to grow once exposed to a high-quality diet. Some data suggest that these calves, if fed high-quality diets, will perform. Will they ever catch up with the rest of the calves in the herd? It won’t happen right away, but the longer you keep this calf, the more like the other calves she will become. The key is to feed a high-quality diet that allows her to grow but not get fat. Puberty in beef females is a function of weight and age. They will begin to cycle when they are about 60 percent of their mature weight. So if the projected mature weight is 1,200 lb, they should begin estrous cycles when they reach 700 lb. In this example, a 300-lb calf needs to gain 400 lb, and if it is 220 to the start of the breeding season, the calf would need to gain between 1.8 to 2.0 lb per day.