Baby it’s cold outside!
Old Man Winter seems to be overstaying his welcome this winter, and while nearly everyone around would be ecstatic for his exit, perhaps those most anxious would be dairy farmers. They are working around the clock to provide their calves with extra TLC during this “Polar Vortex” to keep their calves strong and warm during this time. Their dedication and hard work now and throughout the year is truly remarkable.
Landmark Dairy Nutrition Expert, John Binversie, shares some helpful hints to keep front of mind when working with calves during these record low temperatures:
Feeding and Management
- Use feeding strategies such as:
- Increase the volume of the milk or milk replacer per feeding
- Add a third feeding
- Add a supplement to increase nutrition
- Team up with your Landmark nutritionist to determine the best strategies for the health of the calves
- Provide plenty of fresh water
- Use properly cleaned utensils
- Ensure the milk/milk replacer is the proper temperature at the time of delivery
- Have calf housing areas properly ventilated
- Alleviate any other unnecessary stresses for the calves
- Proactively look for signs of stress and address them immediately (i.e. shivering, scouring, abnormal behavior, etc.)
Warming and Housing:
- Dry newborn calves off as soon as possible
- Use appropriate supplies to warm calves, including: towels, a heated area, heat lamp and calf warmer box
- Use calf jackets on all calves during extreme cold, only after calves are completely dry
- Keep calves out of the wind
- Provide plenty of clean, dry, warm bedding that is deep enough for the calves to be able to nest
It is important to remember that calves are born with very little body fat reserves, so they need adequate nutrition for both maintenance and growth. The cold stress that calves are currently experiencing increases the nutrition requirement tremendously–as newborn calves face cold stress at 60° F, and older calves at 40° F.
|John Binversie is dairy and forage specialist on Landmark’s Animal Nutrition team. He has over 20 years of experience in the dairy industry and works with producers to provide on-farm solutions.|