(Rural Roots Canada) – Keeping newborn calves warm in the spring in a climate like Alberta’s is a daunting task as there can be big swings in the weather.
Kent Fenton is a Veterinarian with Feedlot Health Management Services powered by Telus Agriculture.
He has four key things producers need to help protect the newborn calves.
“These calves in the first month of life, we need to keep them from getting wet so they don’t get hypothermia,” Fenton said.
He says when they get wet they get hypothermia easier and that can be fatal so they need to be on dry ground.
“Use bedding this time of year, it insulates these small calves from the cold, probably separate the cows from that bedding so they don’t muck it up.”
Fenton says the swings in the weather can present issues during calving.
“Let the calves get out, I’m based here in southern Alberta, it’s always an issue, but wind will suck heat off of these calves and you probably need bedded rest areas out of the wind, so that they are not exposed to that wind.”
He says the final point is to make sure the calves don’t get too hungry.
“Because hungry calves get cold easier they get disease easier cold calves stop sucking. So don’t forget to feed your cows more in cold weather if they are lactating. They need more feed in cold weather to make enough milk.”
He also has a simple tip if newborn calves are cold.
“Number one warm them up and number two give them colostrum, it seems pretty simple but in the first 24 hours of life, warm and colostrum are your two big practices.”
He adds that producers know that frozen ears and tails can result in short ears and tails which means they are discounted at sale time.