Moose Calves

by Rick Lacroix
(Ottawa Ontario)

How long will moose calves follow their mothers and what size can it grow to before it leaves the mother's side?


Thanks for the question about a moose calves Rick.

Moose calves will stay around until breeding season. That is to say a young bull will not be chased away by it's mother until it reaches his second year of growth. Once the estrus starts the cows will chase away their young bulls (at 1 1/2 years age).

A young bull of this age will be considered an immature. He will have antler growth but this will be minimal... fork horn or no more than two points on one side. A moose this size will only weight about 600 to 700 pounds on the hoof.

Female moose calves on the other hand may stay with or near their mothers for a several years. Cow moose typically do not chase the female calves away, they will eventually wander away but often stay near their home territory.

Comments for Moose Calves

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Young female moose
by: Anna

We have a young female moose around the yard. I think poachers got her mother. I think she is from last year. She's quite skinny and seeing the winter is so harsh, I'm scared she will not make it. Is there anything we can do?
I know nature should take it's course, but it's hard to watch her struggle.

Moose Survival
by: Mark - The Mooseman

As you say, mother nature should always be given the first opportunity to help. It is only natural that we humans want to help out.

Moose naturally do loose a lot of weight during the winter months, you would too if all you ate were twigs. So it's not totally uncommon to see skinny moose at this time of year.


If you feel you really need to give a helping hand, you could by a bale of hay and leave it near where the moose hangs out.

I don't know where you are, but in our area spring has already started to show it's colors. Hopefully spring will arive soon and the new growth will be a great help to this young moose.


Moose calf
by: Anonymous

Make sure the hay is alfalfa. Not regular field hay they can not digest it. Moose love broccoli and it is good for them. If you can get some old stuff from your grocer it would go a long way to help it along. If your temps are below -10 F they need to eat fir tips as well as regular browse. If momma is gone maybe she has not been taught this. (don't know if it is a natural thing for them to eat it if they have not been taught)

Young female Moose
by: Anna

Thanks for your reply. I'm going to buy some broccoli tomorrow. Our neighbor has Alfalfa hay, so I’m going to ask if we can buy a bale from him.
We’re in Manitoba on the boarder of our National Park. And we had a very harsh winter this year with a lot of snow. The young Moose has a hard time plowing trough the snow. But she moves around a lot on our property. I hope she stays around till the snow is gone before she goes back into the park. I think she’s more safe here than in the park.

Girl with a moose
by: Anonymous

I have a baby moose living on my property (his mom was hit by a car last week) I'm not sure how old it is but I'm worried for his safety. Although I have a large forested property it's surrounded on all side by busy roads and highway. I live in BC is there anything I can do or someone I could call to help it?

What to do with orphaned moose calf
by: Mark

If it's a calf (you'll tell because its face would be short compared to an adult) it will be 8 or so months old.
He (or she) would definitely be dependent on its mother for safety, especially regarding predators. They are likely its biggest threat at this stage of its life.

There are some animal rescue centers around but I don't think a yearling would fall into the scope. Orphans are usually only going to be adopted in the first 6 months or so (I believe).

Check with your local SPCA, they probably will have contact information for rescue centers, or another very good possibility is to check with your local conservation office.

Moose calf about a year old
by: Debra

We have a moose hanging around our house, we think it is about a year old. No antler growth and we can't tell if it is male or female.
It isn't aggressive, but has been around for about 4 days. It is not afraid to be out in the open and is comfortable right outside our windows eating our cedars, staying close by all day and night. It watches us what it.
We think it strange it isn't more fearful. It is very mangy and quite bald around its mid=section.
Should we be worried?

Fearless Moose Calf
by: Mark

Debra, thanks for your question.

It's always best to let nature take its course, often us humans want to get involved cause we think we know better. ;-)

Hard to know exactly what is happening with your moose. I don't know your location or climate so its hard to have an idea if there is a problem.

A few things:

If you can get a clear view of the rear of the moose you can tell if it is a cow moose if there is a whitish hair patch below it's tail. The vulva patch is mostly white.

Mangy could mean it's loosing it's winter hair or possibly is invested by ticks.

As for being alone, if the calf is one year old and it is time for its mother to give birth, then its dam will have deserted the calf (temporarily) while she goes too her safe caving grounds. Once the newborn is able the family unit will reunite.
However the calf in question will be chased off to start it's own family this coming fall.

Some pictures of your moose would be helpful.

Mark ~ The Mooseman

Orphan moose
by: Anonymous

Will a cow moose take in a orphan calf? Thank you

Orphaned Moose Calves
by: Mark - The Mooseman

Orphaned moose calves are not adopted by a surrogate. Orphaned calves are sometimes included or accepted into the moose group but would not be defended as a calf with a damn.

Orphans may also be tolerated by bulls.

The unfortunate outcome of an orphaned calf is that the calf will surely be predated upon by wolves or bears.

Mom crosses river leaving twin calves behind
by: Ellen


I live in Jackson Hole along the Gros Ventre River. On my walk along the river, I was lucky enough to catch a cow and her twins on the other side of the river. She began crossing the river and half way she noticed me, but she did not seem to care but I got out of sight and watched from afar to see what the calves would do. The calves saw me as well. The river is fairly high still due to spring runoff so the calves quickly gave up the idea to follow their mother. The mother made it to the other side leaving the calves alone. I left. Do you think she will return to them or wait for them to cross? I believe if they crossed they would not make it because they were most likely born this spring. Very small.



Deserted Moose Calves
by: Mark - The Mooseman

Ellen, not to worry. Mom moose will not stay separated from the calves for long. She will leave her offspring for up to four hours while she feeds. It's a common occurrence.

This is where people can cause problems. They come across calves that appear to be abandoned when in fact mom has just stepped out for lunch.

Of course it is possible that the calves may try again to follow resulting in a drowning, but more likely the cow will return to the calves. In Alaska upwards of 18% of moose calf mortality is causes by drowning.

Or, also possible is that predators come across the young moose. One defense mechanism that young moose have is they have virtually no odor. Making it difficult for predators to find them.

Cow moose seldom abandon their calves. Even after a calves death a cow moose will vigorously defend her offspring.

Immature moose
by: Anonymous

How do you identify an immature bull moose?

Identifying an immature bull moose.
by: Mark - The Mooseman

In the British Columbia hunting regulations of the past, it was stated that if a moose had no more than two points on one side it would be considered an immature bull moose. The synopsis has since been changed to be a spike/fork bull moose.

In some circles it is believed that a mature bull moose has at least three points on one eye guard.

If you are referring to an very young or calf bull moose, there are a few ways you can identify it if there are no bony antlers.

One way is if you can look through a spotting scope at its head, so may be able to see the antler nubs covered in hair. I would not rely on this 100% though.

Another method of course would be to view the animal from the rear. Cow moose have a very visible white patch of hair around the vulva whereas bulls do not.

Also, if you can see between his legs you should be able to see his genitals.

Alfalfa for moose...
by: Anonymous

Has anyone seen an adverse affect of feeding alfalfa to Moose? We have an abandoned calf (born last year) on property. Cow has been gone for weeks. We are having a really hard winter here, snow is 4 to 4.5 feet on ground. Calf is trying to get to willows and small aspen. Bought an ungulate mineral block and some alfalfa bales but am hesitant about alfalfa as I've heard so much about them not being able to digest hay. Do not want to cause more harm than good. Any comments or experience would be very appreciated.

Feeding Hay to Moose
by: Mark - The Mooseman

Moose held in captivity that are more than two years of age do not fair well on diets of hay (Thorne 1979).

If you can cut and feed natural browse the moose will do much better.

There is not enough bulk (fiber) in hay and moose will become limited in their ability to pass waste. They cannot extract enough nutrition from hay or alfalfa to survive (Schwartz et al. 1980, 1985).

If you feel that the calf cannot survive on the available food try mixing cut browse and hay.

The Alaska Moose Research Center developed a ration that consisted of the following:

  • Yellow ground corn - 30%
  • Sawdust - 25%
  • Ground Oats - 15%
  • Ground Barley - 125.5%
  • Dry Cane Molasses - 7.5%
  • Soybean Meal (7.4% nitrogen) - 6.3%>
  • Pelaid - 1.3%
  • Dicalcium Phosphate - 1.1%
  • Sodium Chloride - .5%
  • Vit. A, D & E - .3%
  • Mycban - .025%
  • Trace Minerals - tr

(Ecology and Management of the North American Moose)

Calves every year?
by: Suze

Do the moose cows give birth every year?

Good question Suze!

Cow moose will give birth in the spring calving season from the time they are two years of age (sexual maturity) provided they are bred during the previous fall breeding season.

She should give birth to one calf, very occasionally two calves and rarely three calves.

How long do moose siblings stay together for?
by: Anonymous

I've been looking for an answer but no luck so far hopefully someone here knows thanks!

Moose Siblings
by: Mark ~ The Mooseman

Moose calves are chased away by their mothers when she gives birth in the current year. She will continue to chase them off until they 'get the message'.
The yearly calves may stay proximal to their dam but will not interact with her directly.
As for siblings staying together, this will vary greatly.

For example in Alaska and parts of the Yukon, moose form harems where groups of cows and yearlings hang together.

In Boreal areas moose are more solitary and may venture off on there own.

More study would be required to define just how long on average moose siblings may stay together.

Bull moose with calf
by: Anonymous

What might be the reason to see a mature bull moose with a calf? They seem to be sticking very close together, just curious as this doesn't seem to be a common occurrence.

Bull Moose Bachelor Groups
by: Mark ~ The Mooseman

Depending on the age and sex of the calf you ask about, it is entirely possible they are forming a bachelor group which is not uncommon after the breeding season. This is likely to be the case if the calf is 1 1/2 years of age and a bull.

Baby born in our yard
by: Anonymous

We have a moose that was born in our yard 2 days ago. We live in a small town at the end of a street next to a creek. Mother and baby are both doing great.

How long will they both stay in this spot before they move on? We have two dogs and am keeping them inside so as to not bother the newborn and mother. Many other dogs around too.

Moose Calves Postpartum
by: Mark ~The Mooseman

The cow moose will stay within 55 yards (50 meters) of the newborn calf for the first 5 to 7 days. At this time of their lives, moose calves are particularly vulnerable to predation so the dam stays nearby. After this period the cow may hide her calf and leave it for periods of up to 4 hours so that she may tend to her own dietary needs.

To answer your question; how long will they stay?
That will depend upon disturbances and if the cow feels the need to move on. The calf will be very wobbly for several days after birth but will soon be trotting along after its mom.

I would advise keeping your dogs confined until they move on.

Do they stay with their fathers?
by: Anonymous

I am going to make an art piece, and I want to add antlers to the parent. I'm just not sure if a baby moose would stay with the father.

The bull would not tolerate a calf except under a year old during the breeding season only.
Thanks for the question!

reply to Anna
by: Anonymous

A little late but wanted to comment on Anna's post. I agree that nature can be harsh and every creature can only attempt to endure.

If there isn't much winter browse (feed) in the area and you want to help moose during winter the only thing you could do is cut some good browse and make a big feed pile or a few piles. During the winter moose browse on deciduous trees and shrubs. Willow, aspen, balsam poplar, saskatoon, red-osier dogwood, chokecherry, alpine fir, hazelnut, buffalo-berry, bush cranberries, rose, and gooseberry.

Other than that nature will take it's course.

A young bull moose with a calf
by: Anonymous

My husband and I were traveling down the road and we saw a young bull moose with a calf. We did not see a cow with them. Is this normal? We hadn’t seen it before.

Moose Groupings
by: ~ Mark - The Mooseman

Without a photo it’s difficult to know exactly what you mean by a young bull accompanied by a calf moose. Was the bull a yearling? Was the calf from this spring or also a yearling? When did you make this observation?
Regardless, a dame moose doesn’t always stay right at the side of her calf, she could be resting or feeding somewhere else.
I realize this may not answer your question but there is too much information missing to give an accurate answer.

Baby Moose found wandering the streets in Marlborough, MA
by: Lisa Cameron

Over the last couple of days, there has been a young female moose walking around Marlborough, MA. All of us who live here were extremely concerned about this young calf, and I am quite sure that something happened to her mother for her to wander into Marlborough.

When people started calling the police to report that they had seen a moose, the officer on the other end of the phone line kept saying to the caller, "your talking about a deer, right?" The caller had to repeat themselves a few times before the officer realized that they were actually taking about a young female moose.
The young calf has been walking around Marlborough for a few days, and just a little while ago, the police officers contacted the environmental police to come and assess the situation.

They just have to get her tranquilized so that they could move her to a better location.
This way we are assured that the young moose won't get hit by a car, and will be able to find the food that it needs to survive.

Young moose in yard
by: Anonymous

I live in Sourh Central Alaska. It’s been a long hard winter, and there is now a baby moose sheltering in our yard. Last year we had a young female moose die of malnutrition in our yard after about 4 days and I don’t want to let that happen again. This appears to be a male, less than a year old. He doesn’t spook easily and appears lethargic. Is there anything I can do to help him through to spring if he doesn’t leave?

Young moose approaching humans
by: Anonymous

The last couple of days there’s a young moose that approaches humans. It chased a woman down the street this evening as she was going for a walk and yesterday it ran towards my husband twice plus some construction workers when they arrived to the job site. Is this normal? No idea if it’s male or female but I have pictures.

Do moose cows teach their young to go into the river
by: Anonymous

Do moose calves naturally enter a river or does their mother have to teach them to go in with them.
Can you describe the process?

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