Now is a great time to talk about preventing heat stress in calves before we reach the hot summer months. It is easy for calves to become environmentally stressed when they cannot regulate their body temperature. When calves overheat, they utilize energy to regulate their body temperature that they would otherwise utilize for growth and immune function.
Strategies for Preventing Heat Stress
To prevent heat stress and promote calf growth, you can implement the following strategies:
1. Provide ample airflow by placing hutches four feet apart with 10 feet between rows and open all vents and door or add additional fans if housing in a calf barn
2. Provide shade over hutches by strategically placing them under trees or a shade cloth that promotes airflow
3. Face hutches East to West to avoid direct afternoon sun
4. Increase milk nutrients and offer fresh feed at each feeding. Discuss your milk replacer program and feeding program with a qualified nutritionist
5. Provide fresh, cool water throughout the day. Add in an electrolyte to help flavor the water and encourage water consumption
6. Clean feeding buckets and waterers daily to control fly population and prevent bacteria growth
7. Maintain clean, dry bedding. Use sand or sawdust rather than straw
8. Limit activities that utilize energy like vaccination to the cooler hours of the day
9. Do not feed calves during peak heat or humidity
Warning Signs of Heat Stress
Watch for the following signs of heat stress, so you can intervene before there’s a negative impact on your calves’ health:
- Reduced movement
- Decreased appetite
- Increased water consumption
- Fast or open-mouthed breathing
Preventing heat stress in calves is a commitment. If you’d like help promoting growth and immune function through your calves’ milk replacer or feeding program, our highly trained team of nutritionists would love to provide an on-site consultation! Call our office at 320-543-2561 to be connected to a dedicated nutritionist. Consider talking to a professional for both your calves and your bottom line!
Learn more about the services we provide by visiting our Dairy page.