Monday, January 19, 2015

Frozen Feet and Ears

We had five days last week with wind chill numbers well below 0F.

I have been hearing about frozen feet and ears on young calves. 

The operation that I ran was hutch housing with openings facing ESE. I, too, had cases of frozen ears and feet. This problem was mostly limited to times when the wind chill was below zero. There is no question that getting the ears and feet of the newborn calf as dry as practical does help with freezing problems (you might want to read this: http://www.atticacows.com/documentView.asp?docID=1699 about drying off calves. 

I tried to bed well. I put down a full bale of dry wood shavings on top of the stone. Then, on top of the shavings I shook out a full bale of long straw - literally, the hutch was full of straw - I had to shove the calf into a wall of straw the first time into the hutch. Generally wheat straw in these small bales will run around 10 percent moisture and makes a good dry nest for calves.

I had plenty of small square bales of wheat straw. I filled the hutch door with a bale to keep the calf inside. I note now that one can buy door covers (for example, see this site Calf Hutch Weather Shield | Genesis Enterprises ). I am sure you can find many other vendors of similar products.

I kept my bales in the doors for the first week. Sometimes I would see that a calf was unusually dumb about staying inside the hutch - I kept the door filled with the bale longer for these calves.

Every winter in spite of all these efforts I usually had at least one calf that managed to lie down in the door of her hutch with her rear feet out in the snow and ice all night long - of course, her feet froze and she was a cull. 

My best wishes for good cold weather management!

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