How to Remedy a Calf Not Gaining Weight 

calf not gaining weight

Calf Not Gaining Weight

Summer stress is no joke. Especially with fresh-weaned calves that are pulled off their mamas, turned out on the grass, and expected to gain and grow during the hottest months of the year. You might have noticed in your regular pasture checks that you have a calf not gaining weight as rapidly as it should be. That really isn’t unusual, especially with this hot, humid weather that much of the country has been experiencing.  

Don’t panic. The team at Gain Smart® has some educational advice on how to turn your calves around and gain weight.  

First of all, if you are not feeding Gain Smart® mineral fueled by AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, you might consider getting that into your calves’ diet. Gain Smart is a line of vitamin and mineral supplements for stocker cattle that promotes healthy, economical pounds. Amaferm is a prebiotic research proven to enhance digestibility.

Research has shown that Amaferm in the diet increases weight gain by at least .25 pounds per head per day. 

Cattle Nutrition Experts 

Curious about who you’re getting advice from? Gain Smart is a renowned brand of mineral supplements designed to enhance cattle health, optimize growth, and improve feed efficiency. Our products support commercial producers looking to maximize their operations. Best of all, Gain Smart products ensure balanced nutrition for livestock. 

The Gain Smart brand is developed by BioZyme Inc., a leading fermentation company pioneering advancements in animal nutrition and health. Through innovative research and high-quality manufacturing, BioZyme creates powerful solutions that improve animal performance and support producer profitability in the agricultural industry. 

Our mission: undeniable positive impact on the health and wellness of your animals, and your business. 

How To Fix a Calf Not Gaining Weight 

Now that you know more about us, let’s talk about you. As a cattle producer, it is never good to have a calf not gaining weight at weaning. However, several strategies can be implemented to address the issue. 

We offer some steps and considerations to help improve weight gain in weaned calves: 

Evaluate Nutrition 

At Gain Smart, we value quality nutrition and know that nutrition, health, and performance work synergistically. That’s why we want your first step to be evaluating your calves’ nutrition program.

Are they getting the proper nutrients they need to grow and perform? Are the forages they are grazing adequately meeting their needs, or do they need additional supplementation? 

Quality Feed 

Ensure calves receive high-quality, nutrient-dense feed. This includes a balanced ration with adequate protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. 

Forage Quality 

Check the quality of forage. High-quality hay or pasture can make a significant difference. We cannot stress the importance of hay and forage testing enough. Your forages may look green and lush, but that doesn’t mean they are nutrient-rich.

At BioZyme, we offer hay testing services because we want our customers to succeed. Contact your dealer or Area Sales Manager to learn more.


To ease the transition, provide supplements such as creep feed before weaning. Post-weaning, consider supplements like grain, commercial feeds designed for weight gain, or protein supplements.  

Feed Intake 

Monitor feed intake to ensure calves are eating enough. Sometimes palatability issues or competition with other calves can reduce intake. If you are feeding your calves, ensure adequate bunk space.  If your cattle are simply grazing, make sure that you have adequate land by using a stocking rate calculator

Health Management 

Keeping cattle healthy is the key to keeping them growing and gaining. We know that 70% of the immune response starts in the digestive tract, so if we can keep that calf’s gut healthy, we can keep the calf healthy. 

That is why we encourage feeding one of our products powered by Amaferm, like the Gain Smart mineral. Gain Smart is a line of vitamin and mineral supplements for stocker cattle that promotes healthy, economical pounds.  

Not only does Amaferm help keep your calf healthy, but if your calf is not gaining weight, the prebiotic, combined with vitamins and minerals, should help enhance overall gain.  

In addition to feeding Amaferm, be sure to deworm your calves at weaning, especially if parasites are an issue. They can severely negatively influence weight gain. Furthermore, ensure calves are current on vaccinations to prevent diseases that can stunt growth. 

Be sure to observe calves for signs of illness or stress. It’s important to check calves regularly, so you can treat any conditions promptly. Don’t just wean and turn them out to grass to fend for themselves. They still need to be checked on regularly. 

Reduce Stress 

Reduce stress during and after weaning calves from cows. Stress can lead to decreased feed intake and poor weight gain. It’s best to provide a comfortable and low-stress environment with adequate shelter, clean water, and proper bedding. 

Management Practices 


Group calves by size and weight to reduce competition and ensure that smaller, weaker calves have better access to feed. This also helps at sale time, as buyers prefer to buy uniform load lots of calves that are roughly the same size and weight. 

Monitor & Record 

Keep records of weight gain, feed intake, and health status. Regularly weigh calves to monitor progress. Also, record all vaccinations and any treatments that you give to sick calves.  

Feeders & Waterers 

Ensure there are enough feeders and waterers to prevent overcrowding and ensure all calves have access.  Make sure that water is accessible and that fresh, clean water is readily available. Water intake promotes feed intake. Dehydration can reduce feed intake and, ultimately, weight gain, leading to a calf not gaining weight. 

Professional Consultation 

At BioZyme, we always suggest that you turn to the experts for guidance, especially when challenges occur. When it comes to weaned calves, health and nutrition go hand in hand, and we suggest building relationships with both a nutritionist and a veterinarian. 


Consult a livestock nutritionist to formulate a ration that meets the specific needs of your calves. If you are a BioZyme customer who takes advantage of the hay testing resource we mentioned earlier, you will also have access to one of our on-staff nutritionists. Our nutritionist analyzes the forage test results to recommend what solutions would work best to compensate for the missing nutrients in your hay.  

Perhaps you already have a relationship with a nutritionist. That is great, too. Work with that local person who knows your environment and management practices to formulate the best ration for your calves. 


Work with a veterinarian to develop a comprehensive health plan and address any ongoing health issues. Your local veterinarian will understand your herd, local climate, weather conditions and other outside factors that could contribute to stress or other underlying health challenges. Establishing a veterinary-client relationship is critical to any livestock enterprise. 

Additional Considerations 

Creep Feeding 

Introduce creep feeding before weaning to get calves accustomed to eating feed other than milk. 

Environmental Factors 

Consider environmental factors like temperature and weather. Provide adequate shade and protection from extreme conditions. 

Gain Smart® Offers 3-Step Approach  

We know that weaning can be a challenging time. We don’t want you, the producer or the backgrounder, to have to stress about an unhealthy animal or a calf not gaining weight. That is why we have created the Gain Smart Weaning Program, which includes two products from the VitaFerm® line that is within the BioZyme family of brands. 

With 3 simple products, you can achieve weaning success and growth simultaneously. 

Step 1: VitaFerm® Cattle Drench  

VitaFerm® Cattle Drench with the Vita Charge Technology is the first step to successfully weaning your calves. This drench for cattle is designed to support digestive health before, during and after challenges. Contains AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility. Cattle Drench also contains MOS (mannan oligosaccharides) helps normalize the gut microflora and supports the immune system and enzymes to generate a more rapid digestive response.  

Using this drench as you process the calves at weaning helps keep their gut healthy and functioning. We know that 70% of the immune response starts within the digestive system, so a healthy gut will lead to a healthy animal.  

Step 2: VitaFerm® Stress Tubs with the Vita Charge Technology  

VitaFerm Stress Tubs with the Vita Charge Technology help eliminate stress when offered to calves 14 to 21 days post-weaning. This tub for cattle is designed to support digestive health and intake and contains the Vita Charge Technology including Amaferm and MOS. It also contains a probiotic to help restore the gut microbiome. The Stress Tubs are not minerals but can work along with your mineral program.  

The Vita Charge Technology, found in the Cattle Drench and Stress Tubs, is comprised of a unique blend of ingredients to help support animal health before, during or after the stress. Every product with Vita Charge Technology contains an exact amount of B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, zinc, MOS and Amaferm.  

In addition, a precisely defined salt-to-sugar ratio was developed and incorporated into the technology to support hydration. This combination provides an undeniable impact to livestock under stress  

Step 3: Gain Smart  

Gain Smart® is a line of free-choice vitamin and mineral supplements for stocker cattle that promotes healthy, economical pounds. With four different formulas based on your management scenarios, this mineral is designed to maximize efficient gain.  

Gain Smart contains Amaferm, organic copper, iodine and zinc for maximum bioavailability and hoof health. It also provides nutritional support for a healthy immune system. It can be fed as a loose mineral or mixed into a ration.  

Wean the Gain Smart Way  

Research shows that calves that are fed just 4 ounces of Amaferm daily are likely to increase gains by ¼ of a pound per day. More efficient gains lead to faster-gaining, healthier calves.   

Do you want to wean calves from cows in a low-stress, efficient manner? Do you want calves that gain healthy, economic pounds and ultimately add to your bottom line?  

Follow the 3-step approach with VitaFerm products with the Vita Charge Technology and complete the program with one of our Gain Smart minerals.  

Get Your BioZyme Products Today!  

Are you looking to incorporate these three products into your weaning program? You can buy BioZyme products from one of our dealers. Find a BioZyme dealer near you. 

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