ExtremelyCold Weather Management
Practices in Wisconsin, 2014
While talking with the calf health vet at Calf Source calf rearing operation near Green Bay Wisconsin he present several practices they used with reasonable success to deal with severe and extended cold conditions in January and February this year.
Just for reference, Calf Source is feeding about 3,800 calves on milk and another equal number between 2 and 4 months of age.
The first adjustment was to increase milk solids level to 15 percent. They add to whole pasteurized milk enough liquid whey product that tests 24% protein and 16%fat to bring solids up to a standard 15 percent at every feeding.
Then, they increased the volume fed in two feedings to about 8 quarts.
They were already bedding with first a layer of dry wood sawdust and then a layer of long wheat straw. They started adding more long straw in this extreme cold.
They were already using calf blankets every winter. When it dropped to -40F they tried using double blankets.
For the youngest calves they moved the metal wire cages directly up to the doors of the hutches. That way the youngest calves did not have to come outside their hutches to drink their milk.
In spite of all of this they did lose a few calves. Next year they are looking into the doors that fasten easily to the fronts of the hutches to provide a solid closing in the front.
These are all good practices. However, when the daily high temperature is -20F and it goes down to -40F at night risks of hypothermia are always present.