Regional Calf Report: Eastern Michigan
Posted on November 9, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Laura Zagorski, Dairy Service Specialist
Like many areas in the Midwest, Michigan faced above average temperatures and dry conditions this summer. For calf raisers, this has created a need for a greater management emphasis on many of the basics.
Even though fresh, clean water is always a vital nutrient required by our calves, it becomes especially important during periods of heat stress. Calves should be offered free choice water at three days of age to prevent dehydration. Water will also help stimulate starter intake during this challenging period.
Next, we have focused on keeping the calf as cool and comfortable as possible. In Michigan, we have found this summer to have been a great opportunity to evaluate ventilation, air flow, drainage and calf bedding. Are our barns getting the correct amount of air flow in all the right places? Are we maximizing air flow in our hutches by locating them in an open, well spaced area?
Humidity can be a problem if our calf raising areas aren’t draining properly, resulting in damp bedding. Some calf raisers tried sand bedding for their calves rather than straw during the summer. Additionally, they have performed stressful activities, such as moving, dehorning, and vaccinating, early in the day.
Finally, with summer come those pesky flies that we try so hard to control. Make sure buckets are cleaned regularly, calf starters remain fresh, and waste feed and bedding are disposed away from the barn or hutches.
Luckily, some of the management practices that have the biggest effects on our calves during summer heat stress are basic and easy to implement. Keep the calves hydrated, comfortable, and as cool as possible and you will decrease the impact of a “summer slump.”