Winter is coming, are you ready?

Kayti Lyseth, Dairy Production Specialist, Purina Animal Nutrition (320) 385-0699

Now that fall harvest is wrapped up and the choppers are put back in the shed, it’s time to prepare for what Minnesota is known for, winter. Often times when the harvest crew is in full swing one of the most important part of the dairy’s operation is overlooked, the calves.

With the change in weather there are a few reminders that the calf and heifer team at the All American Co-op would like to share with you. As always, clean, dry bedding is a must for raising high quality livestock. In the winter this is especially important to young calves as we want their energy to be used for growing, not trying to just stay warm. Having a high ‘calf nesting score’ can improve your calf’s efficiency. Nesting scores range can be a 1, 2 or 3. A 1 is when the calf’s legs are totally visible when resting. A 2 is represented when the calf’s legs are partially visible and a nesting score of 3 is earned when none of the calf’s legs are visible when lying down (as in the image included with this article). It is recommended to equip your calves with calf jackets during the cold months as well. A rule of thumb for calf jacket use is when the daytime temperature gets no higher than 50oF jackets should start being put on our calves. All American Co-op has calf jackets available for purchase at the Stewartville office!

Proving a high level of nutrition to your calves is another way to prepare for winter and the next year to come! Offering a high quality milk replacer or pasteurized milk, fed at high levels, paired with a high protein calf starter and fresh water will help your calves get through the cold months like a breeze! This will also give you the opportunity to grow bigger, stronger and healthier calves to grow into a more productive cow, but it all starts when the calf hits the ground on its first day of life.

As long as we are discussing the temperature outside, don’t forget the temperature of your milk! Is your calf bottles and buckets having to be carried 100 yards in -25* temps? How much time has passed from starting calf chores to your last calf fed? Is the milk being kept warm during transportation? Spot checking your milk temperatures is a quick and easy way to ensure your calf is getting the proper and consistent temperature for optimal growth. This temperature should range from 105*-110*F.

Along with bedding, jackets, nutrition, and proper feeding temperatures, your calves will continue to perform despite the less than ideal weather conditions we face in the great state of Minnesota. For more calf raising tips and questions you may have about your young stock, contact our calf and heifer team at the All American Co-op to assist you. Kayti Lyseth (320)385-0699 or Makaila Klejeski (507)676-2316. Thank you for your continued business and have a safe winter!

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