Summer is upon us and it’s time to make sure your calves are ready to fight the heat. Melissa Holtz, a calf and heifer specialist with Land O’Lakes Purina Feed says there are three areas you can focus on to make your calves comfortable during the heat: housing, feed management and hydration.
To make your calf housing a cooler and more comfortable environment for your calves, make sure the vents on individual calf hutches are all the way open. Give your calves extra room out in front of the hutch if you can. Consider propping up the back of the hutch to allow extra air movement throughout the inside area.
Installing a shade over calf hutches can help to keep your calf hutches cool. If you choose to install a shade, make sure the shade is high enough above the hutches, so as not to restrict air flow. If your calves are in buildings air movement and open curtains are very important.
Proper feed management is important to keep calves thriving during the heat. When you are feeding milk, whether in a bottle or bucket, keep the feeding area clean of excess milk or milk replacer to reduce attracting flies. If the calf does not eat all of its liquid feed, dispose of the excess outside of your calf housing area.
Keep your calf starter fresh at all times and free of any moisture. Start your calves with a handful of feed and change it every day until they are eating their full allotment. Know that molasses, a common calf starter ingredient to aid in palatability, can be a tasty attractant for fly populations. Calf starters that utilize alternative natural palatability enhancers along with feed-through fly control technology are available.
Make sure that your calves have free-choice water at all times. It may take extra time to empty and refill water pails several times throughout the day to offer fresh water but feeding water has many benefits to the calf, including driving starter intake. Keep an eye out for dehydration. High-quality electrolytes with a suspension agent mixed properly can be free choice fed during heat stress.
Source: Land O’Lakes Purina Feed