Calves need extra energy in winter to stay healthy and maintain good growth rates.
Rich Larson, a dairy nutritionist with Hubbard Feeds, offers these six tips to ensure your calves stay well fed and warm this winter.
- Provide a clean, dry and draft-free hutch or pen to give calves the best opportunity to stay warm.
- Feed a milk replacer with at least 20 percent fat to increase energy intake.
- Increase the calves' liquid diet by 25 percent to 50 percent. This can be done by:
- Increasing the feeding rate of milk replacer powder (for example, feed 12 ounces per 2 quarts instead of 8 or 10 ounces per 2 quarts.)
- Increasing the volume of milk fed (for example, feed an additional 0.5 to 1 quart per feeding, or add a third feeding.)
- Feeding a fat supplement, 1 to 2 ounces per feeding, designed to be mixed with milk or milk replacer.
- Keep water available 30 minutes to one hour after each feeding as water intake stimulates starter intake.
- Feed milk replacer between 100 to 105 Fahrenheit. The mixing temperature may need to be slightly higher due to rapid cooling in cold weather.
- Focus on a good calf-starter management program, which will in turn maximize intake. This will result in proper rumen development, and the calf will be less prone to cold stress.
Larson recommends that any feeding changes be done slowly to allow the calves’ digestive system time to adjust. Also, be sure to consult your nutritionist or veterinarian when designing or altering your calves' nutrition program.