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Oesophageal tube feeding colostrum is used to ensure sufficient colostrum intake in newborn calves but the impact of tube feeding on animal behaviour is unclear. Therefore the objective of this study was to compare lying behaviour of tube-fed or bottle-fed dairy calves. Calves (n = 37) in 3 groups were offered 3·5 l colostrum 2 h after birth. Calves of the bottle group were fed with a nipple bottle. Calves of the placebo tubing group were tubed for 4 min but no colostrum was given and they were then fed with a nipple bottle. Calves of the tubing group received 3·5 l colostrum via tube feeding. Consumed amount of bottle and placebo tubing calves was recorded. If they refused some of the offered 3·5 l the rest was offered in a second feeding 2 h later. Lying behaviour was measured by data loggers fitted to right hind leg for 3 d. Blood samples were taken 24 h after birth for determination of IgG concentration. The voluntary colostrum intake differed significantly between bottle-fed and placebo tubed calves at first feeding. Considering both colostrum feedings, bottle-fed calves consumed 3·44 ± 0·14 l and placebo tubed calves consumed 3·20 ± 0·38 l colostrum. ImmunoglobulinG intake (255·6 ± 77·5 g IgG), serum IgG concentration 24 h after birth (22·8 ± 6·7 g/l) and total serum protein concentration (6·1 ± 0·6 g/dl) did not differ between groups. None of the calves had a failure of passive transfer. There was no effect of tubing on lying behaviour.