Winter calf care

UW-Madison Extension, Cassi Worster

When you reach for another layer, it is time to start making your calf care plan for winter

When you reach for another layer, it is time to start making your calf care plan for winter. Tina Kohlman UW-Madison Extension Fond du Lac County Dairy & Livestock Agent joined Millaine Wells of Green Bay WFRV Channel 5 for a chat about nutrition, bedding, and the best housing for your calves.





One-month-old calves begin to use extra energy to stay warm when temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and newborn calves utilize extra energy below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  As caretakers, management changes in the winter must change for the calf to continue to grow and support its immune system while trying to maintain its core body temperature during those cold winter days.  Management strategies for winter calf care focus on calories and the environment, including:

  • Increasing the calories, or energy, a calf consumes so the calf can continue to grow and support its immune system while trying to maintain its core body temperature when temperatures drop.  This includes increasing the volume of milk consumed per day by feeding an extra quart at each feeding or providing an additional feeding, the amount of powder (solids) of milk replace in the same amount of water per feeding (not to increase 15% solids), or providing a fat supplement to the liquid feed.
  • Providing an environment for the calf to combat the cold including a well-ventilated, draft-free pen or hutch to prevent pneumonia; deep bedding to provide cushion from the cold ground,  barrier to any fluids seeping through the bedding, and insulation for the calf to nestle; and a calf blanket to provide an extra layer of protection.

For additional information regarding managing calves during cold weather, please visit https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/heifermgmt/.

Winter Calf Care Tips – Video





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