Work Calves in the Morning
As with other classes of cattle, it is wise to handle calves in the morning so that stressful activities, such as dehorning, vaccinations, pen moves, or transportation, can be completed when both calf body temperatures and environmental temperatures are at their lowest point for the day.
Consider Feeding More Milk Replacer
There is a considerable body of evidence that most Holstein calves should be fed more than the conventional 1 pound of powder per day, simply based on the maintenance requirements of calves with typical body weights.
Cold stress gets more attention than heat stress, but as temperatures drop calves often increase their starter intake to help meet their increased energy needs (this is especially true for calves older than 3 weeks of age). Thus, in a period of cold weather, calves that have started eating grain can often meet their increased energy needs by eating more grain.
During heat stress, however, starter intake often stalls or goes down, leaving calves with less energy available to support their increased maintenance requirements. Generally speaking, healthy calves are unlikely to refuse to drink milk, so there is opportunity to increase the amount of energy provided to calves by increasing the amount of liquid feed offered.
Bateman, G., II, and M. Hill. 2012. How heat stress impacts the growth of calves. Progressive Dairyman. 26:55-57.
Quigley, J. 2011. Calf Note #158 – Water for calves – cold or warm? Accessed May 24, 2013. http://www.calfnotes.com/pdffiles/CN158.pdf.
This article is an excerpt from a new Penn State factsheet. Read the full version here.