Protect Calves from Cold Temperatures

Tips to keep calves healthy with below normal temperatures.

Published on: Dec 12, 2005

Problems with pneumonia and other respiratory infections in calves have become prevalent in some herds as nighttime temperatures have remained well below zero across the state.

To protect calves from the onset of respiratory problems, South Dakota State University Extension Range Livestock Production Specialist Eric Mousel says it's advisable to keep livestock dry and out of the wind as best as possible. Although many herds remain out on winter range and pasture with little protection from the wind, moving livestock into protected areas as soon as possible may reduce potential problems.

Colder temperatures also raise nutrient requirements of both cows and calves. Extra, high quality feed may be necessary to help livestock maintain their core body temperatures and keep the immune system functioning properly.

Calves that are showing signs of respiratory problems should be treated with CTC crumbles at a rate of 4 g/hd/day for four days. If further treatment is necessary, 2 g/hd/day for an additional two to four days may increase efficacy. Continually feeding antibiotic to calves to prevent respiratory problems is discouraged as resistance can become a problem.

Another problem likely to arise following the winter storm stress is bloody scours as a result of coccidiosis. Bovatec® and Deccox® are examples of feed additives that are effective against the pathogenic bovine coccidia. Deccox® however, also can be used as treatment to reduce the effects of an acute outbreak. The clinically-affected animals should be treated with sulfa drugs, and then the coexistent cattle should receive Deccox® to prevent further cycling of the oocysts. Contact your veterinarian for additional treatment recommendations.