The title of this article is an obvious statement but what happens when we are in calf and cattle facilities is that we start to assume that what we feel is comfortable is the same for the animals. Here are some recent examples that I have ran across:
Air Quality: We will walk a pen or even crawl around in the bedding and determine how the air quality is for the cattle. It is usually pretty obvious when it is terrible but if it is “not so bad”, let’s remember that cattle live in that pen 24/7 so a small issue is really a big issue for them. We can use air speed monitors, smoke the barn, and use other tools to evaluate how the air is truly moving so we don’t have to assume that if we are ok, the calf is ok.
Stocking Density: Dairy calves and heifers are not sardines nor are they feedlot steers. Just because you can get 10 more into the pen, doesn’t mean that you should. The stocking densities are real numbers that are science based for maximum results. Of course there are ebbs and flows in cattle numbers but have a realistic number of head per pen.
Feeding Time and Bunk Management: Cattle are grazers not slug feeders. While we are perfectly content to eat 3 times a day, the bovine needs to spend lots of time eating to maintain a stable rumen pH. This happens by giving them access to quality feed for most of the day—empty bunk maybe an hour or two tops. Slug feeding is not a friend to the rumen.
Temperature: Fifty degrees is cool for a calf, seventy degrees is hot for a cow. Our temperature comfort zone is not their comfort zone.
Remember to think like a calf not a human when evaluating your facilities, feeding, and management practices. Your livestock will thank you with good health and performance.