November 9, 2017
We all dread winter but it usually comes before we even know it. For the most part, this means cold stress and increased maintenance needs for young calves.
Here are 4 feeding tips for calves which will help you to go through winter.
1. Increase nutrition levels
It is a priority to ensure the calves are getting sufficient nutrition during winter.
Increase the nutrition level so that calves receive enough energy to maintain body condition as well as continue to grow.
It is recommended to feed a full potential diet of 2.5 pounds of milk solids from 8 - 10 quarts of milk or milk replacer per calf per day throughout the year in order to prepare the calves for winter.
Increase the feeding frequency to 3 times a day when temperature drops to increase nutrition.
If you are already feeding 3 times a day, increase the volume per feeding.
2. Change milk replacer according to season
Calves have different requirements during different season.
Hence, it is advisable to feed a winter-specific milk replacer during winter season in order to maintain body condition as well as increased energy needs.
Total energy is the most important factor to consider when choosing milk replacer. Hence, choose a milk replacer with 20% fat and a minimum of 26% protein.
3. Ensure starter is fresh
Starter intake for calves increase as much as 200% during winter season.
Therefore, it is a balance act of providing enough starter to feed the calves while keeping it fresh by not over feeding.
To keep starter fresh, feed smaller amounts throughout the day.
It is encouraged to look for starter low in molasses as it is poorly digested by calves.
4. Avoid frozen bucket
Water is equally important during winter season as it is in summer.
If water is frozen, it will dehydrate the calves.
Having sufficient water is important as it helps to keep the calves hydrated and support growth.
Offer water to calves immediately after each milk feeding and let them drink as much as they desire.
In an ideal case, feed milk 3 times a day is recommended.
For those feeding milk or milk replacer 2 times a day, adding a third water feeding during midday can significantly make a difference by boosting starter intake.