Hard Calving and Cold Weather
Calves experiencing difficult deliveries may need extra attention in cold weather conditions. Christine Murray, University of Guelph, presented " Newborn Calf Vitality: Risk factors, characteristics, assessment, resulting outcomes and strategies for improvement" at the Calf Congress 2013: Growing the Next Generation, RIT Inn and Conference Center, Rochester NY December 4-5, 2013.
As part of her presentation Ms. Murray talked about problems with thermoregulation among dystocia or hard delivery calves. She observed these calves may experience:
- Depending on the degree of stress, calving environment and season of birth, maintaining homeostasis can be challenging.
- Decreased available energy needed for the mobilization and metabolic activity of brown adipose tissue [fat] during non-shivering thermgenesis.
- Reduced muscle tonicity, preventing shivering.
- Less able to withstand cold stress.
- Getting the calf dry. For a resource on drying calves, click HERE
- Having available a space that is above freezing - maybe a hutch with a heat lamp, a purchased box with a heater and fan - to house the calf for at least the first few hours after birth.
- Using a calf blanket. For a resource on calf blankets, click Blankets
- Feeding plenty of high quality WARM colostrum within the first two hours after birth.
- Bedding her pen/hutch with plenty of long straw so she can nest. If in an open pen setting, providing something like a small square bale of straw to nest against.
- Feeding an extra meal for the first week to push up milk intake by 20 to 30 percent.