08-11-2021 - Kat Hart BVSc BSc Cert AVP(Cattle) MRCVS - 0 comments
Calf tracker

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We have been very fortunate with a dry autumn so far, with many cows still out. However this dry weather has brought with it a large variation in day and night temperatures and many still days. Both of which can be a challenge to calf health.  We quickly turn to pneumonia being the cause of deaths and disease in winter, however scours cases also increase.

Calves need energy

New born calves use their own energy to keep warm when temperatures get below 15 degrees (this varies slightly with breed), meaning that they have less energy for growth and their immune system which is so vital at this age. If we can provide calves with more energy they will have more chance of beating disease challenges quicker with less deaths and higher weight gain. This extra energy is best provided by increasing milk or milk replacer feeding. Work suggested that during winter feeding rates should increase by at least 5%. I suggest feeding a powder at 150g/L and 8L/d equated to 1.2kg/day.

What about heaters?

Heaters can be another way of adding energy into the calf environment. Infra-red Heaters - ones commonly used as patio heaters - can be an efficient way of increasing bedding temperature without the waste and losses of warming the air. These can come in strips or individual bulbs and focusing them on calves 0-2 weeks of age would be the best option. Always ensure they are put up properly and safely to prevent the risk of fire. Research is being carried out in this area but initial data shows that heaters can have a direct impact on improving growth rates.

Find out what more you can do and also how The Geroge Farm Vets can assist with a piece of software called Calf Tracker. 

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