Supplemental Cooling Benefits Calves
Posted on November 8, 2012 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
Fans used to cool calves during the summer improves average daily gain and reduces respiration rates, according to research reported in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.
Researchers housed pre-weaned calves in wire mesh pens in a curtain-sided, naturally ventilated nursery and bedded them with straw. One treatment was cooled with fans between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The other treatment received no supplemental cooling.
The trial was conducted from May through September at the Nurture Research Center in southwest Ohio. Average temperature was 72 degrees F and ranged from 46 to 93 degrees F during the trial.
In addition to improved weight gain, calves that received daytime cooling with fans also had better feed efficiency and greater change in hip widths than calves that received no cooling.
The pre-weaned calf’s thermoneutral zone is 68 to 82 degrees F. At times during the trial, ambient temperature exceeded this range, indicating the calves were exposed to heat stress conditions.
According to the Gold Standards I, Holstein calves should double their birth weight by 60 days of age. If calves are not achieving this during the summer months, it may be advantageous to explore cooling options.
Article originally included in May 2011 issue of Heard in the Hutch by the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association.