Suther's Perspective

Cold-stress management in calves

With the changing weather we are beginning to see warmer day time temperatures.  However, the night time lows we are experiencing are below freezing.  That could pose a serious threat to calves born overnight.  Thus, warming a newborn calf born in freezing temperatures (day or night) is pivotal to their survival.  Especially with the time, effort, and money that has gone into this years calf crop.

Data has indicated that warming calves in a warm water bath (100 degrees) is more effective than warming them with insulation and heat lamps.  The water raises the body temperature of the calf in a manner that keeps the calf from burning through their stores of brown fat.  Brown fat is the fat that newborns possess that is more dense than regular fat allowing for greater metabolic (heat) output that is crucial for survival.  However, it may not be a practical way to warm calves in a water bath, due to facilities.  This biggest factor to keep calves health and vigorous is to get them dried off, warmed and suckling before returning to the nighttime chill.

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