As temperatures soar to
record highs, one concern for calf and heifer growers is to reduce the
potential risk of heat stress for the herd. Calves
suffering from heat stress may experience growth rate issues and
potentially develop health concerns. Further consequences may include
rapid dehydration and a weakened immune system.
A combination of high
ambient temperatures, high humidity and low wind speeds can create
dangerous conditions for livestock. Look for the following symptoms to
determine if your calves are suffering from heat stress:
Decreased feed intake
Increased water consumption
Desire for more shade
Lack of coordination
Although the Temperature-Humidity Index (THI)
is used as a reference for heat stress in dairy cows, it can also be
used for calves. Calf and heifer growers should keep in mind that calves
do best when the temperature is between 55 and 78 degrees.
Some management practices to keep calves healthy during hot and humid weather:
Use sand bedding to keep calves cooler.
Increase airflow and air exchange to provide adequate fresh air.
Feed fresh grain daily to ensure good intakes during the hot weather.
Perform stressful activities such as moving and handling early in the morning.
Provide ample amounts of cool, clean water to prevent depressed feed intake.
Make housing adjustments and other changes that will lower the ambient temperature.
The following are suggested articles discussing heat stress: