Good morning, calf enthusiasts!

Cold stress weather for young calves is not far away (50F and less)!  Below are a few refreshers as we head into the Midwest’s infamous winter weather and some reminders on items to make sure you have on hand!

General Winter Reminders

  1. Make sure water used to mix milk replacer is warmer than normal, or the pasteurizer is holding milk at a higher temperature.  Milk cools rapidly, and when poured into a cold bucket, milk can chill to 80F or less.  Store bottles in a warm room to reduce this chilling effect on milk.  Feed milk at 101-103F so the calf doesn’t spend energy using precious calories to re-warm milk.  Feed youngest calves in bottles to make sure they consume all the calories and to avoid trying to pail train them during this weather when milk chills quickly in pails.
  2. DRY calves.  Newborn calves should be COMPLETELY dry down to the skin before being moved to pens or hutches.  Have the hutch or pen filled halfway with long stemmed straw, put a calf jacket on the calf.  Calves should have a double Thinsulate jacket on when the weather is colder than 40F and they are less than 3 weeks of age.  Let me know if you would like to order some of our Amish made double Thinsulate calf jackets ($38/each or 12+ for $33/each).
  3. Water is still important.  BUT, no one likes chipping ice out of buckets!  Feed milk, follow with warm water (~2 quarts/calf), and then when you feed grain, dispose of remaining water in the buckets.  Giving a calf a chance to drink water is very important for his/her health!
  4. Deeply bed calves, preferably with straw, so the bottom half of legs are not visible when a calf lies down.  Nesting is extremely important for warmth.
  5. Don’t wean or begin to reduce milk offered to calves until they are eating 3 lbs of grain for more than 3 days in a row!

Feed Needs Calves need ~20-25% MORE calories in winter weather just for maintenance.

Miscellaneous Tools for Your Calf Toolbox

  • Calf Jackets – use for calves less than 3 weeks old when the average day time temp is 40F or less. Ask about our Amish made double Thinsulate jackets!
  • Clean esophageal tube feeder.  Check in your local Ag Partners farm store to replace yours!
  • New cleaning brushes with stiff bristles – essential to clean equipment adequately!
  • Alcohol swabs to clean ear taggers – avoid ear tag infections!
  • High quality colostrum replacers – for when your colostrum bank runs out, be sure to select the appropriate replacers!
  • Extra calf bottle nipples – make sure the milk can’t flow out when the bottle is tipped upside down or the calf may aspirate milk!  Always have extra on hand!
  • Dairy strength soap or Dawn dish soap, and dairy acid – keep that calf kitchen clean!

Thank you for your time and business!  Our calf team looks forward to serving you and your operation with researched solutions and tailored nutrition and management approaches!


Rebekah LaBerge

by Rebekah Mathews

Calf & Heifer Specialist