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Winter Preparation

Calf Care for

Winter Weather By Karen Anderson

As cold weather approaches, dairy farmers begin to think about the additional work that winter weather brings and the vital importance of preparation. Don’t let calf care take a back seat during the up and coming cold weather. Calves are the future of the dairy farm, and it is essential for future success to provide adequate and consistent care for each and every calf. Included in this article are several feeding and housing strategies to consider when raising pre-wean calves during this winter season. I used some additional insight about calf care and well-being from Drs. Noah Litherland (Dairy Youngstock Technical Specialist with Vita Plus) and Maurice Eastridge (Professor and Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University) when writing this article. Look at each calf on an individual basis - what signs do you see

that something is not quite right with that calf? Depending on age, calves experience cold stress at different temperatures. The critical temperature for newborn calves is 48°F versus 32°F for older calves. When cold stress takes effect on calves, there is an increase in the

All feedings and water available should be served at a calf’s normal body temperature of 101.5°F. calf’s energy requirement for maintenance. Cold stress causes calves to divert energy away from growth and immune function to fight the effects of being cold. Additional energy must be added to the ration as well as housing strategies must be used to help combat the effects of cold stress and as a result maintain a calf’s desired growth rate of

1.5 pounds per day. Feeding strategies for winter months include: • Consistency, consistency, consistency: Calves expect consistency when it comes to feeding. Calves should be fed the same volume, the same amount of solids, the same time of day and at the same temperature at every feeding. • Fat content: Due to the fact that calves are born with very little fat on their bodies, calves should receive a ration containing at least 20% fat. • Feeding times: In order to increase the feed intake of calves, the number of times fed or the amount fed may need to be adjusted. For example, increase the number of feedings per day from two to three while keeping the amount fed per calf the same. Or continue feeding the calves twice per day; however, increase the amount fed * Continued on page 14


December 2017

American Dairymen - December 2017  
American Dairymen - December 2017