CALF COLD STRESS MONITOR: A NEW WAY TO ESTIMATE THE INCREASED ENERGY NEEDS FOR CALVES UNDERGOING COLD STRESS

Posted by Milk Specialties Technical Experts on Nov 8, 2019, 9:46:27 AM

Colder weather has descended on many parts of the U.S. dairy country, and that means we need to pay increased attention to the impact of cold stress on young dairy calves raised outside. Calves less than 3 weeks of age are most susceptible to cold stress because they are born with very little body fat reserves to draw upon and do not consume very much calf starter at this young age. These young calves must rely on the energy being provided by the liquid diet they are consuming to meet their energy requirements for maintenance (basic body functions such as digestion, immune function, and nutrient metabolism) and for growth. 

When the thermometer starts dropping, a calf’s maintenance energy requirement will increase, meaning growth will suffer unless we take measures to increase the calf’s intake of energy.

The Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle published by the NRC (National Research Council, 2001) estimates calves less than 3 weeks of age are susceptible to cold stress starting at temperatures as high as 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The publication provides estimates on the increased maintenance energy requirements needed for a calf exposed to decreasing environmental temperatures. The lower the temperature, the more energy a calf needs to maintain its core body temperature and stay warm.

This brings us to the Calf Cold Stress Monitor available at calfcoldstress.com. This website-based monitor utilizes the calculations from the NRC along with local weather data to estimate the increased energy needs for calves undergoing cold stress.

 

HOW TO USE THE CALF COLD STRESS MONITOR

  1. Go to calfcoldstress.com
  2. Enter a zip code and date | The monitor will either retrieve actual historical or forecasted hourly temperatures (based on the option selected) and calculate the degree of cold stress the calf has been, or will be, exposed to.
  3. Click to view the data for 5 day History or 5 day Forecast
  4. Review recommended supplement amounts | The monitor calculates the amount of Milk Energizer high fat supplement needed per day to meet the increased energy needs imposed by cold stress. The monitor starts with the assumption one wants to maintain a targeted growth rate for calves with the current feeding program regardless of whether the calves are in the thermoneutral zone (no cold stress) or subject to cold stress.

 

Calf Cold Stress Monitor 5-day Forecast 1 by Milk Specialties
Calf Cold Stress Monitor 5-day Forecast 2 by Milk Specialties

 

Overall, the monitor estimates the increased energy requirement of the calf due to cold stress and calculates the amount of Milk Energizer supplement necessary to meet that increased maintenance energy requirement, independent of the current feeding program.

Supplementing the calf’s diet with Milk Specialties Global's Milk Energizer supplement (7 % protein, 60% fat) is a convenient and fast way to quickly increase the energy content of the liquid diet to meet the increased energy needs of a calf under cold stress. Mitigating the negative effects of cold stress on calves will help them stay healthy and gain weight during the colder months of the year.

 

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Topics: Calf Management