Calf Management: A Lesson in Stress Reduction

The programmable Serf C90 offers convenient interfacing
of your c900 Curtain motors to Auto Flex controls

Our line of equipment makes this everyday job easy
Raising healthy calves hinges on meeting their basic needs. These essentials range from providing adequate food and water to ensuring comfort, shelter, proper health care and consistent routines.
Bethany Fisher, a calf and heifer expert at Purina Animal Nutrition in Texas, emphasized that even minor alterations in these areas can significantly impact the calves' health and well-being.
Wondering how your own calf-raising game stacks up? Fisher's pro tip: "Take a moment, step back, and examine these crucial areas”:

Nutrition Essentials: Food and Water

Calves need an extra energy boost to maintain growth and support bodily functions. This is especially true in extreme weather, whether it's scorching heat or freezing cold.
Hence, provide calves with feed that meets their nutritional demands throughout the year. This care starts from day one with colostrum, extending to milk or formulated seasonal milk replacers and calf starters.
The amount of milk or its seasonal equivalent is essential. By weaning, the calf should have gained 4 to 5 inches in height, doubled its birth weight, and strengthened its immune system.
Make sure they have access to plenty of water and calf starter. A growing heifer needs constant access to enough feed. Running out of feed isn't an option. Imagine going to your favorite restaurant only to find it closed. That's how they feel. No feed or water means slug feeding and potential bloating when they finally get a meal. And that? Not ideal for good growth and general well-being.
And let's not overlook the importance of fresh, uncontaminated water. If it freezes during the night, make sure it has thawed out by daytime for the calves. Calves often eat more in the evening between their milk servings. This intake might decline if they're deprived of enough water.

Protection Basics: Shelter and Comfort

Calves don't need a state-of-the-art shelter sourced from a premium catalog or specialized vendor. What's vital is a shelter that protects them from harsh weather. You don't need a million-dollar building; you just need a space that screams comfort and shelter. And you would want one that is fuss-free when it comes to cleaning.
It's then up to you to tailor the shelter type for the age group. In addition to the structural considerations, comfortable bedding, adequate ventilation, and weather adaptation are essential for the calves' comfort.

Adjustments during summertime

Ventilation: The air quality at the calves' level is important when choosing the type of shelter. A minor adjustment can reduce heat strain on the calves. One example of adjustment is lifting a hutch's corner for airflow.
Bedding: During the scorching summer months, sand is an excellent bedding choice. It not only enhances the calf's comfort but also acts as a barrier against pathogens in the ground. It is essential to keep the bedding clean and dry since dirty bedding can attract flies and serve as a breeding ground for infections.
Optimal Hutch Positioning: Keep a tab on the day's sun position to minimize heat stress. This will help you with the correct shelter position. Additionally, taking advantage of the prevailing winds can be a game-changer.

Adjustments during wintertime

Ventilation: During the cold seasons, it's crucial to maintain proper airflow in calf hutches. Proper ventilation helps to lower the chance of health issues like pneumonia that might arise with stagnant air.
Bedding: In winter, calves should have their hocks hidden when they lie down. Commonly approved bedding materials include straw, wood shavings, and cotton buds. These materials provide a protective layer between the young calf and the cold ground below. In addition, it adds extra warmth, enhancing comfort.
Calf Jackets: These come especially handy in freezing terrains. Ensuring calves are snug and appropriately bedded channels the energy they derive from milk and grain towards growth and development. In other words, they won't waste energy maintaining their body warmth.

Routine changes

Small changes in a calf's routine can cause stress. If left unmanaged, it can lead to health issues or even death. Common stress-inducers include diet changes and weather variations. Pen relocations, such as the transition from solitary to communal housing, can also cause stress.
To reduce stress, it's a good idea to scale back on making changes. For instance, delay any feed adjustments for a few days after changing feeds. This idea applies equally to weaning calves off milk and grouping them.
In other words, give them some time to adjust before implementing the next step. Additionally, working with your veterinarian to plan less stressful medical procedures like immunizations or dehorning close to the time of relocation can benefit the calves.
Calf and heifer health is intrinsically tied to cows' nutrition and comfort. Regardless of the season, you can minimize health issues once you prioritize these factors. Take a moment to pause and check the essentials. Check for comfort. Ensure that there's enough feed and water supply. Look for ways to reduce the cows' stress levels. Remember your ultimate goal: To raise a healthy calf.

Request a quote

Were always EXCITED to HEAR from you

Vent Motors and controls

Our 24 volt motors and controls tie in well with your existing system or work perfectly in new installations. Easy installation makes the AutoVent system the right choice for your facility.

REQUEST a quote

Light Deprivation

Adding a Light DEP system benefits you through an improved product, an increased bottom line, and more eco-friendly growing practices.

REQUEST a quote


We are located in Berks County, Pennsylvania. We love solving technical problems and we strive to provide you with economical choices in automation technology.
© AutoVent LLC. 2022 All right reserved.
Privacy Policy