When temperatures exceed a calf’s thermal comfort zone, she will use more energy to drive heat from her body, which leaves less energy available for growth.
Tom Earleywine, technical services director for Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products, provides these suggestions to help calves not only beat the heat but also thrive in warm weather:
- Consider adding a third feeding of milk replacer.
- Evaluate milk replacer formulas. Make sure they provide a high level of nutrition to help fulfill the calf’s increased energy demands. Transitioning to a calf milk replacer formulated for warm weather also can help.
- Provide free choice electrolytes.
- Empty and refill water pails several times throughout the day. Switching to 5-gallon pails may also be helpful as calves will often double their water intake.
- Clean and sanitize water and milk pails frequently. Warm weather promotes algae, mold and bacterial growth. This will also help control fly populations.
- Keep calf starter fresh. Calf starters can quickly go bad in hot weather. Also note that molasses can be a tasty attractant for flies, so you may want to consider other natural palatability enhancers with minimal molasses.
- Provide shade.
- Evaluate calf handling. Consider changing the time of day when handling of calves is done.
- Get a handle on flies. Unfortunately, calves are a hot spot for flies. Feedthrough larvicides in milk or calf starter can help.