All young mammals are motivated to suck.

This makes sense, because in nature, low suction motivation can jeopardize the survival of the young animal.

Even if calves get a lot of milk from an open bucket, the calves still have the urge to suckle.


Feeding milk through a bucket without a teat may meet the nutritional needs of a calf, but it does not allow the calf to satisfy the innate motivation to suckle.


Not only is suckling intended to get milk into the calf, it also performs other important biological functions.

When calves suckle, they release digestive hormones that allow nutrient absorption.

This gives calves a "satiated" feeling.

Suction also improves the closing of the esophagus slot.

As a result, milk does not enter the rumen, but directly into the abomasum, where it is then digested.

Milk in the rumen starts to ferment, resulting in gas formation and bloating, reduced feed efficiency and slower growth.


If calves cannot suckle from the cow, there is a good chance that they will do this among themselves.

They have a natural urge to suck and need to suck. This need is greatest immediately after the end of the milk feeding and then decreases linearly (to a negligible level), +/- 15 minutes after the milk feeding.

Mutually suckling calves focus on the groin area of other calves in 78% of the cases, and in particular on the udder and scrotal tissue.



You achieve the best result by meeting the natural sucking motivation and sucking needs of calves during (and after) milk provision.


Some guidelines:

1. Always provide milk with a teat:

     calves must suck instead of (unnaturally) drinking from a bucket without a teat.

     From the point of view of natural behavior, natural needs and animal welfare, milk should be supplied to calves through a teat.

2. give calves enough milk through the teat,

3. After the calves have finished their milk, let teat buckets or bottles hang on the calf pen for 10 to 15 minutes:

     this extends the time frame that they can suckle, and you meet the sucking need without the calves having to meet other calves

     or suck things into the pen.

4. use a "slow" teat:

     the calves then have to suck intensively to be able to absorb the amount of milk. Calves drink due to the slow milk flow

     slower, they produce much more saliva and their sucking needs are met.

5. group housing while drinking:

     Make sure that each calf has a teat available.

6. Provide tasty, fresh and structured roughage after every milk feed. Not only does this promote saliva production, rumen development and         healthy digestion, it also prevents boredom.



The motivation to suck is partly influenced by the intake of milk. The taste of milk (lactose) stimulates the sucking behavior.

A shortage of energy or nutrients will also stimulate the sucking behavior.

The motivation to suck is reduced more by the sucking itself than by the actual intake of milk!

Sucking on objects has a clear influence on the metabolism.

Such as an increase in the concentration of insulin and cholecystokinin in the body.

This has a calming effect on all mammals, the effect is comparable to a "pacifier" or thumb sucking in children.

Higher concentrations of insulin and cholecystokinin in the body ensure better digestion and suppression of the feeling of hunger, which decreases the motivation to suck.