Cold Stress and Calves

A new publication from South Dakota State University offers tips for dealing with cold during calving.

Published on: Jan 13, 2006

A new publication from South Dakota State University offers tips for dealing with cold during calving.

SDSU Extension Extra 2050, "Cold Stress and Newborn Calves," is available online at this link: http://agbiopubs.sdstate.edu/articles/ExEx2060.pdf.

"Cold stress in newborn calves is inevitable in South Dakota. However, by using sound management practices, you can improve newborn calf survival and health," says McPherson County Extension Educator/Livestock Lanette Butler.

"Insuring newborn calves receive adequate colostrum in a timely manner has a dramatic and positive impact on calf health," she adds. "Colostrum is the first line of defense against pathogenic challenges to the calf."

Butler adds that if a calf is cold-stressed, it will be more susceptible to disease, so warming the calf may be necessary. The best method to use depends on your facilities. Once the calf has been warmed, provide colostrum and maintain body temperature. When the calf is warm and the situation has stabilized, move it back to its mother.

A successful calving system also depends on having adequate nutrition for cows and having a herd health program in place for managing disease. The three-page Extension Extra provides more details.