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Colder temperatures mean calves need more calories

When it gets cold outside, the amount of energy required for a calf to maintain its body weight and body temperature increases.  Lower temperatures require calves to use more energy to generate heat to maintain their body temperature. Therefore: when it gets cold outside, calves need more energy to keep warm and to grow.

Once the temperature goes below 50 degrees, the amount of energy it takes to maintain a constant body temperature increases, which if not supplemented with extra calories in the form of milk or milk replacer for young calves, can lead to sick calves or calves that do not grow as they should. Energy intake can be increased by adding an additional feeding of milk or milk replacer. For example, feeding milk or milk replacer three times a day instead of two.  If this cannot be done, then increasing the milk feeding size while increasing the fat content of the milk or the amount of powder mixed in the same amount of water can help fight the cold.

Extra bedding will also help keep calves clean and dry. Straw bedding is best in the winter months and when a calf lays down, the legs should not be visible. Calf blankets can also be used with deep bedding to help keep them warmer.

Here is a chart illustrating the increasing energy demands for a calf 0-3 weeks old as the temperature drops:

Temperature in Fahrenheit

Maintenance Requirements Increase by:

50

26%

41

40%

32

54%

23

67%

14

81%

5

95%

-4

108%

-13

121%

-22

134%

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the office.