Meeting Your Calf's Needs This Winter
As winter season gets closer, calves might start to suffer from the cold sooner than one would expect.
It is important to ensure that the cold does not hinder calf's growth
Even at 15°C, it may seemed like it is a comfortable temperature for us, but the calf will start to divert its energy away from growth and immune to regulating body temperature instead. In general, calves will experience cold stressed even at moderate temperature due to the higher surface area to bodyweight ratio as compared to mature cows.
As the temperature starts to drop, energy requirements for the calf will increase. Study has showed that for every degree the temperature drops below the calf's lower critical temperature, amount of energy needed by the calf for maintenance increase by 1%.
Therefore, when the calf does not received the minimum energy required for maintenance, resources are diverted away from growth, causing the calf to stop gaining weight as well as becoming more susceptible to diseases such as pneumonia and scours.
Besides having to spend more on treatment for the calves, poor growth will also affect future milk production, decreasing the farm's profitability.
It is important to ensure that the calves have sufficient energy during winter season by implementing a feeding program that supports the increased in energy demand. Another way to increase energy for the calf is to add a third feeding of milk replacer, preferably late evening as well as increase the amount of starter offered.