A popular question this time of year is: When do we need to make the transition from winter protocols to summer protocols when it comes to calf care?
"The three most frequent questions are: When do we stop using the calf warmers, when do we start taking off calf blankets and when do we return to the summer feeding protocols?" says Dr. Jeff Acker, owner of Veterinary Services of Wisconsin, LLC, based in Sun Prairie, Wis.
In the April 2013 Vita Plus Starting Strong Calf Care E-newsletter, Acker answers these questions:
- Calf warmers can probably be the first winter items to be turned off. "After the long winter, I am more concerned about accumulation of pathogens in the warming pen/hut," Acker says. "The calf should be fine as long as it is thoroughly dried, given a blanket and put in deep straw bedding."
- Calf blankets are still very important at this time of year, especially for calves up to three weeks of age. "We will have some warmer days when we think we don’t need the jackets, but remember the TNZ (thermal neutral zone)," he says. It is 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit for calves (when they are clean and dry).
- When the mercury remains below 32 degrees F for the daytime high, it is recommended to increase the plane of nutrition because the calf needs more energy to stay warm, as well as grow. Once the weather has warmed, calves can be transitioned to the summer protocol.
Remember, the sun is warm, but the air is cool and damp. Keep calves dry and transition their feedings from winter levels to summer levels.
Source: Vita Plus Starting Strong Calf Care E-news - April 2013