Facilities and newborn care
Lets start in the maternity area as that is where the calf’s life begins. Lets provide that calf with clean, deep-bedded straw for the calf to nestle in after birth to prevent loss of heat. The quicker we can get the newborn wet calves dried, the better. With temperatures becoming colder every day, we know hypothermia happens within 5 minutes after birth. So how can we get that calf dried? Use large towels or beach towels to help dry the calf. But pay attention to how you’re drying it. Don’t dry the hair down, always fluff it up as this helps let out some of the extra moisture. Be aggressive when drying the calf, it won’t hurt them.
Some farms have created a warming box/space for the first hours or days of life with supplemental heat to help them dry before going to their individual pens. Be cautious if using a warming box/space and make sure it is cleaned often. Having an exhaust fan in the warming box is also nice. A warm place like that is a great place for bacteria to thrive. Don’t forget to feed 4 quarts of quality colostrum as soon as possible. Pay special attention to the feeding temperatures. When thawing frozen colostrum, do not exceed a warming temperature of 120 degrees F.
The thermal-neutral zone for a calf under 3 weeks of age is 50 to 78 degrees F. When temperatures dip below 50 degrees, the calf can start to experience cold stress and not grow as efficiently as possible. In October, the average temperature can hover around 50 degrees, which is why it is a good time to start preparing for winter calf care. As we all know, winter can be tough on calves, but simple management and feeding strategies can make the winter go more smoothly.
As the calf moves into its clean and dry individual space, provide an adequate amount of bedding for the baby calf to nestle. Sometimes producers will put down wood shavings/sawdust before deep-bedding with straw to help with drainage. Keep calves away from drafts or direct wind. Add protection of wind breaks for hutches or keeping calves away from walls with curtain sides can also help. Keep air fresh without drafts.
Calf jackets also help calves combat heat loss, but make sure to put them on dry calves and not wet calves. A jacket on a wet calf can prevent the hair coat from drying fully and essentially locks in the moisture chilling them even further. My rule of thumb for those that know me is when we start wearing hoodies, calf jackets should go on. Try to keep calf jackets on as long as possible but for sure the first few weeks of life.
And if you are looking for a good quality calf jacket contact Calf Star, we can now get them in camouflage for all our hunters out there!
Stay Warm and Look Forward to 2021!