Combat cold stress
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Posted by: Dairy Calf & Heifer Association
you by the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association and the beef checkoff-funded Beef Quality
There is much evidence and economic
incentive to increase calf feeding rates during the winter. Remind yourself and
your calf caregivers of these four reasons to increase a calf’s nutrient intake
during the colder months:
- Surface area. Calves lose body heat much more quickly than
larger animals because they have a larger surface area. "The smaller the calf,
the more important this relationship becomes,” adds Bob James, extension dairy
scientist at Virginia Tech. "Virginia Tech research revealed that small calves,
such as Jerseys, had a maintenance requirement which was at least 15% higher
than large breed calves such as Holsteins,” James says in the January/February
2012 Virginia Tech Dairy
- Environmental stress. During the winter, calves require dry, deep bedding
to help them maintain the insulating capabilities of their hair coat. A wet environment
with limited bedding greatly enhances heat loss and increases a calf’s nutrient
- Body fat. Calves are born with relatively low reserves
of body fat so they do not have as much to mobilize during periods of low
energy intake or environmental stress.
- Nutritional stress. Most calves are fed equal amounts of milk or
milk replacer in the morning and again in the late afternoon or evening. "Imagine
the nutritional stress calves face during the long interval between the evening
and morning feeding when the temperature drops at night,” James says.
According to guidelines in the Gold Standards III, it is necessary to provide enough milk or
milk replacer to pre-weaned calves during the winter to meet or exceed growth
goals defined in the Gold
"Feeding management must change to
enable calves to grow and resist digestive and respiratory disease,” James
says. "Don’t skimp on liquid feeding programs, especially during the first
weeks of life when calf starter intake is low.
Feeding less than 1.5 gallons of milk
or milk replacer daily (12.5% to 15% solids), or use of a poor-quality milk
replacer, may reduce feed cost but also can substantially increase treatment
cost, mortality and restrict lifetime performance.
For more advice on calf feeding and growth
goals, please see the Gold
Standards I and Gold Standards III.
This tip from the Dairy Calf
& Heifer Association is funded by