Depletion of body fat stores is more common in young dairy calves during colder weather, but it also can occur in heifers and adult cows. Lack of body fat and/or catabolism of muscle (to meet energy demands) can put animals into a negative-energy balance.

In the January 2013 Utah State Dairy Veterinary Newsletter, David Wilson, extension veterinarian with Utah State University, says the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has seen a noticeable increase in the number of cases where cows or calves have died with little or no body fat present.

“These are not cases of animal neglect or absolute starvation, but rather where there has not been sufficient feed to meet energy needs caused by the consistently low environmental temperatures this year,” he says.

The article also includes recommendations on increasing feed to cows and calves during cold weather.

Read “Extreme Cold Weather is Resulting in Livestock Losses” in the January 2013 Utah State Dairy Veterinary Newsletter.