Although it hasn’t felt like it for long, winter is finally here to stay. As colder temperatures approach, we need to keep in mind management changes for our baby calves. Energy requirements increase for calves starting at 50°F. If we do not offset the increased energy requirement, they begin using their milk/feed intake to keep warm, instead of to grow and stay healthy. Below are a few recommendations we have to help with the increased energy requirement calves face during winter.
Starting at 50°F, a calf’s energy requirement increases 10% for every 10°F decrease in temperature. We can help offset this requirement by feeding them more and/or adding supplemental fat to their milk replacer. Fat is a great source of extra calories for calves that can be easily mixed into the milk replacer.
Bedding and Jackets
Deep straw bedding and jackets are great additions for winter weather. Straw is the preferred bedding during the winter months, as it has more insulation factor compared to corn stalks or wood shavings. An insulated jacket is also beneficial, helping calves retain any body heat they produce, reducing the amount of energy needed to stay warm.
Water and Feed management
Last but not least, make sure to offer fresh water and starter to baby calves. It is best to offer fresh water immediately after milk feedings, since calves are more likely to drink at this time. Limiting water intake will ultimately limit feed intake, decreasing the growth of your calves.
We hope these few management changes will increase your calf health and growth during the frozen winter months. Give us a call if you have any questions, we would love to help!