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Winter's Here! Are Your Dairy Calves Fed For It?

Winter's Here! Are Your Dairy Calves Fed For It?
Below freezing temperatures arrived in the Northeast long before winter was official. Hike dairy calf milk ration energy levels to help them cope.

Winter weather arrived in the Northeast long before the December 21 official date. If you haven't reviewed your winter milk feeding protocols yet, now is a great time to do so.

Don't delay. Much of the Northeast is already experiencing temperatures of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

 "When the temperature drops below 55 degrees, calves will require extra energy for maintenance," says Tamilee Nennich, Purdue University Extension dairy specialist. "The lower the temperature falls, the more energy will be needed by calves just to maintain themselves and to stay warm."

NO SHIVERS HERE: Make absolute certain your dairy calves are intaking enough replacer powder or fat supplement to keep their bodies warm and growing.

At about 20 degrees, young calves will need about 1.5 times as much energy for maintenance, says Nennich. At -20 degrees, calves will need twice as much energy for maintenance compared to when it is above 60 degrees.

How to 'pump up' that ration energy
Because of this increased demand for energy, it's important to feed calves additional energy to maintain growth rates during cold weather. Consider these feeding strategies for increasing the amount of energy fed:
•Feed more overall volume of milk or milk replacer.
•Feed extra milk replacer powder in the same amount of water.
•Feed a milk replacer with a greater fat composition.

Add a fat supplement to the milk replacer.

Whether you use a single feeding strategy or a combination, make sure to provide fresh water. "Even though it's cold, calves still need a source of fresh water each day," she says. Make sure calves always have access to calf starter as well.

Information provided courtesy of the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association, For more details, go to: www.calfandheifer.org .

TAGS: Extension
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