Cold weather housing

When temperatures fall below 15°C, calves less than three weeks will start to use energy to keep warm. Calves older than three weeks start to use energy to keep warm when the temperature is below  5°C.

This means if producers do not offer calves more milk (energy), the milk calves are given will be used to keep warm instead of for growing or protecting against disease. Calves not given enough feed in cold weather will not grow and may even go backward and lose weight.

Adapting calf housing and feeding to winter’s cold temperatures
We’re not the only ones who feel the cold of winter – calves do too. We can protect ourselves by wearing more layers and turning up the heat, but when it comes to calves, it’s up to farmers to adapt the housing and feeding regimes for their livestock to the cold winter conditions.

Keeping calves warm
Calves are much more sensitive to cold temperatures than adult cattle. As the calf ages and increases its energy intake, it generates more heat to keep itself warm. Older calves also develop thicker skin and more subcutaneous fat, which act as insulation. Despite this, all calves still need special attention in colder temperatures.

A simple solution to winter management woes
Calf managers want simple and economical solutions to their calf health challenges. Not every problem can be solved with an easy solution, but three winter calf care challenges – respiratory disease, scours, and reduced growth – can all be minimized with one simple solution: deep straw bedding.