This Tip of the Week has been brought to you by the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association.


Calves need plenty of energy for growth and to build a strong immune system. Freezing conditions divert energy into maintenance, causing calves to fall short of nutrients necessary for health and growth.


In the two-part series, Good Growth in Cold Weather, Sam Leadley shares insight on how to tend to calves during the colder seasons to maintain constant growth. Here are some key points he makes:

  1. Whole milk is a great source of feed because it is packed with extra energy and it is 16 to 18 percent dry matter. Some or all of milk replacer can be replaced with whole milk based on the availability.
  2. Feeding more of the same is another way to increase energy levels. Essentially, this is feeding the same milk replacer but just feeding more of it.
  3. Adding more milk replacer powder works well for young calves that have access to water.
  4. Adding an extra feeding. Add a relatively small mid-day feeding for all calves under two weeks of age.
  5. Adding extra fat also helps increase energy. For growers who do not want to change the feeding procedures between summer and winter, increasing the fat content of the ration will aid in increasing energy.
  6. Water should be offered to calves on a regular basis, even during the colder months.
  7. Developing a cold weather calf care checklist will provide a guideline for effective calf care management procedures. It will also act as a guideline for employees to provide quality calf care. Click here for a sample.

It is recommended and important to work with your herd nutritionist and veterinarian to develop a feeding plan that is safe for your herd.


The following articlesprovide more details on cold-weather feeding:

Good Growth in Cold Weather: Part 1 and Good Growth in Cold Weather: Part 2, by Dr. Sam Leadley and Shirley Macmillan.