3 Top Tips For Calf Health and Cold Stress

3 top tips for calf health and cold stress 1

March 9, 2020

There is still a chill in the air!

In the article below, I outline three very simple steps to tackle issues when the temperature drops outside. If this is prolonged, then it can have an impact on calf health and performance.

A young dairy calf generates very little heat in the first few weeks of life. Their critical lower temperature is 10 degrees. With some authors suggesting it is 15 degrees Celsius for the first 2 weeks.

Therefore, anything below this lower critical temperature means the calf must work hard to stay warm, meaning more energy is used in an attempt to heat themselves up. Obviously, the situation gets more difficult for the young calf when the temperature gets low.

3 top tips for calf health and cold stress 2

When calves begin ruminal development then their tolerance for cold is much greater. With adult cows preferring temperatures between 0-10 degrees Celsius.

3 Top Tips to consider with the Cold Weather

There are 3 very simple ways to tackle times or periods of cold weather when managing dairy calves

  1. Plenty dry straw bedding in a well-ventilated shed with good drainage
  2. Feeding more milk
  3. Calf jackets provide an extra layer of insulation

We must remember that cold if prolonged can also suppress immunity and also provides favourable conditions for viral replication.

Having calves warm, snug and feeding well is the place we want to be. Comfortable and healthy calves will perform better.

Animal welfare, minerals

Heat lamps can also provide areas of warmth in sheds. Be careful that they are in well ventilated and dry parts of the shed. Excessive heat and moisture can sometimes make these areas good places for bacterial growth. however, you should be mindful because if heat lamps are not set up correctly, they can pose a potential fire hazard. It also should be noted that some farms will feed milk warm to calves which also helps in periods of cold weather.

Happy safe farming.

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