Warmer weather is finally upon us! While we are certainly celebrating the raising temperatures, the warm weather often signifies a stressful time for calves. With the changes in weather come many other potentially stressful transitions for calves – weaning, dehorning, vaccinations, feeding and housing changes.
Using the simple strategies outlined below, ranchers and producers can ensure a comfortable, stress free environment for their growing calves.
TIP 1: Feed
Offering calf starter soon after birth help trigger rumen development in newborn calves. Calves between one and three days old should be offered a handful of high-quality starter, containing at least 20% protein, increasing the amount offered as the calf grows. Calves should be fed started for about 3 months.
TIP 2: Water
Calves should have access to water at one or two days of age. Drinking water can help increase rumen development and growth rates, as water consumption encourages calves to eat more feed.
TIP 3: Housing
Calves should have a cool, comfortable environment to maintain good health and optimal growth rates. Calf hutches should have air vents open and should be kept out of direct sunlight, if possible.
TIP 4: Ventilation
Proper ventilation is vital to reducing heat stress and ensuring air quality. Ensure good air flow with the use of fans or other positive-pressure ventilation systems.
TIP 5: Bedding
Consider using sand bedding in summer months to keep calves cooler and more comfortable.
TIP 6: Comfort
Increase calf comfort by controlling fly populations. Fly baits and pesticides can help curb fly populations; feed-through larvicides will prevent the development of more adult flies.
Source: Hyde, Devin. “A warm weather plan of action helps calves grow”. Progressive Dairyman.