Cold Stress on Calves

Once temperatures fall below 10°c, most calves are under cold stress. This Lower Critical Temperature (LCT) is the benchmark which, when colder than, all calves start to use extra energy to maintain their body temperature. Calves less than 3 weeks old have an LCT of 20°c!

Studies indicate that for each 5°c drop below their LCT, calves will sacrifice 100g of daily growth simply to keep warm.

What can you do?
  • Increasing calories intake by adding a THIRD daily feeding when temperatures are below LCT.
  • Increase the amount of Milk Replacer being fed – rough guide is for every 1°c below LCT, an extra 11g of Milk Replacer can be added. i.e. changing from 15% to 17% rather than adding extra litres (do not feed > 18%).
  • Offer good quality straw and start nuts alongside milk.
  • Calf Jackets for at least the first 3 weeks of life reduce energy requirements. Ensure calves are well dried before jackets are put on.
  • Keep pens well bedded so that animals can ‘nest’ in straw to insulate themselves.
  • Ensure calf pens are free from draughts at calf level and wind speeds of >2 metres/second, whilst still ensuring ventilation is at its optimum.
  • Animals huddle together to keep warm, making induvial calf pens less comfortable than group housing.
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