Regional Calf Report: Eastern Iowa – Jeff Hoeger, Vita Plus
The temperature has frequently been in the 60s and 70s and harvest is in full swing here in eastern Iowa. However, winter and the very cold weather that comes with it are just around the corner. Calf managers and dairy managers alike are starting to think about winter preparation for nursery calves. Here are a few things that we need to prepare before the cold weather arrives.
The calving area should be clean with deep straw bedding for the calf to nest. As always, continue to feed 4 quarts of high quality colostrum. Do not go above 120 degrees F when warming colostrum. It should be between 100 and 105 degrees F for feeding. Dry calves as soon as possible. When moving calves to individual pens, provide them with deep straw bedding so they can nestle and stay warm.
Calf jackets need to be clean and dry when they are put on the calf. The calf also needs to be dry. If the calf is wet, the jacket will lock in the moisture. A newborn calf can begin to experience cold stress when the temperature is below 59 degrees, so October is a good time to start putting on calf jackets.
When the temperature drops, we have a tendency to close up calf barns in an attempt to keep calves warm, but we still need to keep air quality in mind. Calf barns need to have four air exchanges per hour in cold months. You need to have fresh air entering the barn while preventing any drafts from reaching the calves.
Starter and water intake
Keep starter fresh and dry to encourage intakes. Remember, water and starter intake are positively correlated, so water is just as important in winter months as it is in the summer months. Even though this can be a challenge with freezing temperatures, offering warm water will help combat the effects of cold stress.
Even though winter calf feeding can be a challenge, we can still achieve good growth rates and healthy calves by taking time to perform the basics of winter calf care.
Starting Strong - Calf Care
Winter calf care