June 27, 2022

HOT WEATHER ALERT- CALVES!

Care for Calves in Hot Weather

 

The extended forecast will put animals well into heat stress. Beyond a reduction in feed intake, calves can become dehydrated, over heated, and their gut lining will be stressed and “leaky”- or open to pathogens. Keep the points below in mind:

 

Entice Water Consumption

  • Offer WARM water immediately after feeding milk. Cold water requires the calf to expend more energy to bring the water to body temperature.
  • Offer warm water in bottles to calves that do not drink out of pails. Just because they may be younger does not mean they don’t require extra hydration.
  • Add an electrolyte feeding in addition to water – a great option is Land O Lakes electrolyte base. Do this between feedings if possible, or leave in buckets overnight or in a pail in a group pen. This must be cleaned daily.
  • Calves will get up at night to drink water- be sure it is there!

 

Fly Stress

  • Use a pour on to deter flies away from calves… flies are exploding right now and can rapidly dehydrate calves.
  • Keep the air moving in barns! Fans by the milk area/feeding station will be important to lower flies in high traffic areas. Fans near grain will deter flies from settling in for a calf-grain snack!

Weaned calves

  • Weaning is already considered a significant stress event and stress means high cortisol, which can be a signal to pathogenic bacteria to begin colonization. Add this with a leaky gut and calves are significantly compromised.
  • Fans, see above.
  • Use a stress tub especially if you had preweaning challenges with calves. Leave in the pen 10-14 days.
  • Consider a few days of electrolytes to keep calves hydrated.
  • Delay weaning for any “challenged” calves.

 

Future Notes

  • Pneumonia for calves can develop following heat stress up to a few weeks. Be on the watch.
  • Because heat stress can depress feed intake, length of time on grain prior to moving to fermented forages may be prolonged by a week or 2 to ensure adequate rumen development.

For more information on electrolytes, stress tubs, and heat stress abatement ideas, please feel free to contact me or the Ag Partners nutritionist you work with!

 

-Rebekah

Rebekah Mathews, M.S.

Calf & Heifer Nutrition Specialist

Ag Partners

(612) 237-0714

RebekahM@agpartners.net