If the nutrient supply at a parallel high demand on energy isn’t sufficient, decreasing daily weight gains will result. Furthermore, the immune system is weakened. Pathogens can spread more easily and for the calf there is an increased risk to get sick. Thus, diarrheal diseases and pneumonia occur more frequently. Furthermore, the physiological development of the calf can be disturbed.
For the farmer this can result in financial losses. In addition to decreasing daily weight gains and high treatment costs also losses regarding late calving-ages as well as lower milk yields can occur.
Feeding should be adapted to the cold stress. The normal feeding amount of a milk replacer is 140 g/l of water. As soon as temperatures fall below 20°C, up to 50 g more milk replacer can be fed per falling 5°C.
Weight and volume of CMR (calf milk replacer)
Weight and volume of milk replacer must not be confused. That can vary. The powder should be weighed with a balance for control.
✓ Within the first few hours of life you should pay attention to a sufficient supply of colostrum. The calf should obtain direct after birth and 18 hours after 3 litres. The amount of milk should be selected on 10-15% of the body weight of the calf.
Important: The quality should be proved with a refractometer or a colostrum newel.
✓ Care should be taken to ensure that the calf’s coat dries quickly. A heat lamp can help during the first 24 hours.
✓ Pay attention to the temperature of the drink! This should correspond to the body temperature of the calf. If this is not the case, the calf must expend energy during digestion to bring the milk to body temperature.
Important: If water is also provided in addition to the trough, it should also be warm in order to avoid unnecessary waste of energy.
✓ Increase of the energy concentration for the right balance between fat and carbohydrates is crucial.
→ Not only in winter it’s useful to have a milk replacer with high energy concentration
✓ In combination with higher energy concentration also blankets can be used in the first 3 weeks for the calves for extra isolation. Those can be used with temperatures beneath 5°C. They should be washed after each calf.
✓ Below 5°C the dosage of milk replacer should be increased to 160g/L water.
It is also possible to increase the drinking quantity by 20% or to offer several meals.
→ Intensive calf feeding has been proven to have a good effect on the development of the later dairy cow. Read more about ad libitum feeding in calves!
✓ The calves should always stand on dry litter. This reduces the transmission of bacterial pathogens. Also in the surrounding of calves there should be paid attention to cleanliness, in order to exclude infections.
✓ Pay attention to a sufficient amount of straw! The calves can build a warm nest in a deep straw bed. So they are protected from the cold.
✓ Draught-free accommodation! If calves are exposed to cold drafts, this leads to a loss of heat. To restore normal body temperature, they require additional energy. However, this is then no longer available for growth. Even a misty and humid air leads to heat loss.
✓ To make sure your calves are healthy and not suffering from fever, a veterinary thermometer can be used for control.
You might be interested in the following contents:
Hygiene in the calf stall
Most illnesses of calves are so-called ‘factor diseases’. This means that several causes are responsible for the outbreak of a disease. Therefore, diarrhea can be the result of several causes.
Rules for managing the birth of your calf
A calf is born. It’s a female. It’s from a good cow. The father is an excellent sire. This animal is supposed to give birth to a calf itself in two years and will become a strong cow.