The cold and snow can be extremely dangerous and stressful to newborn calves, causing their appetites to decrease, while increasing the nutritional demand on their bodies. When temperatures remain below 50 degrees, calves will begin using their valuable energy to keep warm, which can lead to cold stress and weight loss.
The animal nutrition experts at Brookside Agra recommend a balance of natural nutritional supplementation and some simple tips to manage cold stress in calves and help them grow into productive members of the herd.
Use a Natural Supplement
To give calves the nutritional boost they need to combat the stress of cold weather, Brookside Agra recommends its natural oral nutritional supplement Calf-Rescue. When given as directed, Calf-Rescue provides calves with select vitamins and a stabilized source of direct-fed microbials (probiotics) to maintain a healthy, natural appetite, digestion and immune system during times of stress.
“Calf-Rescue, with its unique blend of vitamins and natural microorganisms, works to promote healthy microbial counts in the rumen to increase feed intake and improve digestive function,” said Tim Nelson, Vice-President of Animal Health & Nutrition Sales at Brookside Agra. “Calf-Rescue also provides beneficial bacteria to promote a healthy digestive system, enabling calves to grow to their full genetic potential, at a cost of only about $1.50 per calf.”
Calf-Rescue provides guaranteed levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Thiamine HCL, Pyridoxide HCL and Vitamin B12 – vitamins critical for normal calf growth and development. Calf-Rescue also contains inulin, a complex carbohydrate that serves as a nutrient source to help successfully colonize beneficial bacteria in the gut, plus it contains a healthy dose of microorganisms including: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium and Bacillus subtilis that promote healthy ruminant function.
Use a Warming Box
Use a warming box, a small ceramic electric heater in a small enclosed crate, to keep calves warm. A warming box works well to regulate their temperature and provides their lungs with warm air to breathe. Warming boxes should be cleaned and disinfected between calves to prevent the spread of calf scours.
Use Warm Water to Thaw Calves
Use warm water, not hot, to thaw a freezing calf. If a calf has scours or another illness like pneumonia, it is likely lying down and dehydrated and has less blood flow to its extremities, which can cause its limbs to become cold and more vulnerable to freezing. A moderate water temperature of 100° to 105° F should be used so as to not burn the calf. Monitor the calf’s rectal temperature to make sure it doesn’t overheat and be sure to dry the calf completely before it goes back outside to prevent another chill.
Provide Adequate Bedding
Straw bedding provides some of the best insulation for calves. Straw bedding should be at least three inches deep and enough to cover a calf’s legs when it is lying down. Keep the bedding clean and dry. Using an all-natural, multi-purpose drying agent, like Brookside Agra’s ABSORB PLUS, will safely absorb moisture and provide odor control in animal housing facilities. ABSORB PLUS’ excellent ammonia control improves air quality for the animals and the people who work with them.
Dress the Calf
Place a calf jacket on a dry calf to prevent heat loss. Some farmers have even begun using earmuffs on calves to keep their ears warm and prevent hypothermia. Since calves cannot regulate their own body temperatures due to low fat reserves, adding a layer of clothing will help them retain valuable body heat.
For more information about Brookside Agra’s Calf-Rescue and ABSORB PLUS, visit www.Brookside-Agra.com or contact Tim Nelson, Vice President – Animal Health & Nutrition Sales at 402-560-7381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.