The autumn season often conjures up thoughts of maple syrup, vibrant color changes in the woods and even football. Unlike its predecessor, autumn also often signifies ambient temperature fluctuations between day and night, not to mention shifting weather patterns. Before long old man winter will be upon us!

The seasonal temperature swings mean one more thing for cattle-additional stress! As a result, we see increased coughing and decreased productivity. Not everyone has environmentally controlled barns for rearing cattle, making management changes more difficult for those raising calves outdoors or even in covered "cold" facilities. When you see that the weather is going to be fluctuating greatly, try to avoid adding to a calf's stress load. Weaning itself is a stress on calves so minimize the number of other additional things going on in the calf's life at the same time (Example: Changing the diet, moving, grouping, dehorning, etc.). 

While some factors (like weather) are out of our control as calf raisers, there are some steps we can take to proactively help minimize stress:

  • Carry out only one stressful event at a time. This allows for a calf's immune system to cope instead of having stressful events "piled" on which can lower immune function. Spreading stressful events over time can be inconvenient, but maybe not as inconvenient as treating a sick calf later.
  • Consider spreading out vaccinations. Consult with your veterinarian regarding the timing of your vaccination program in order to get the full benefit of product(s) you are using.

Source:  Dairy Calf and Heifer Association