Regional Calf Report: Eastern Wisconsin – Alex Geiser, Vita Plus

Posted on October 27, 2014 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Alex Geiser, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Summer in northeast Wisconsin was cool to say the least.  I can recall only one day in which the temperatures reached 90 degrees F, which means we had minimal heat stress in the area. To contrast, we had many days when the high and low temperatures varied by more than 25 degrees F, which is stressful to our youngstock.

This showed up on calf walkthroughs as we observed above-average treatment rates and more respiratory issues than we are used to dealing with during the summer time.

The weather has now turned considerably cooler, so let’s take a look at what we can do to raise the best calves possible during the winter season.

Great calf managers always strive to do better.  Part of that success involves preparing for cooler weather and the additional nutritional needs of a calf when day time temps are below 50 degrees.  Click here for a table showing the additional amounts of 20:20 milk replacer and/or energy supplement that is needed to fulfill your calf’s growth requirements as the temperature drops.

As you can see in the above link, it takes 20 percent more milk replacer and 2 ounces of energy supplement to maintain the same rate of growth along with other important factors.  Ample bedding and proper ventilation are always a major concern along with the ramped-up nutrition it takes to be an A+ calf manager.  Below are the primary steps that can be done today to prepare for winter:

  1. Develop and review the farms strategy for dealing with newborn calves in cold weather.  Does your plan include extra calf jackets, towels or heat lamps to make sure calves are dry when placed in the hutch or calf barn?
  2. Provide 4 quarts of fresh colostrum or use a colostrum replacer within the first hour of the calf’s life.  This gives the calf a warm meal and allows it to use the nutrient-dense colostrum as an energy source to create additional body warmth.
  3. Discuss whether feeding calves three times per day is a possibility.  If your answer is yes, plan on the extra labor needed and start three-times-a-day feeding before temperatures dip below 20 degrees.  Other options including feeding one-third more total milk or milk replacer or adding supplemental fat at 2 to 4 ounces per day.  Your consultant can help select the plan that will work best for your calf program.

Category: Starting Strong - Calf Care
Winter calf care