Cold Weather Maintenance Diets for Dairy Calves
Feeding a heifer dairy calf properly during cold weather can mean up to 1500 extra pounds of milk during her first lactation period. Todd Gleason has more on the increased cold weather maintenance diet that results in such a gain.
You can get more milk from a cow if you treat it right as a calf says University of Illinois Dairy Specialist Phil Cardoso. This is especially the case if those calves are fed a proper maintenance diet during periods of cooler (not necessarily cold) weather when they are very young.
Quote Summary - The maintenance diet supplies all the energy needed for the development of the immune system, for growth, and for the calf to live. There is a thermal neutral zone in which the calves nutritional needs are flat, outside of this zone it needs more energy to generate more heat the winter or to cool down in the summer. During the winter the calf needs to generate energy to heat themselves.
The temperature at which additional feed is needed to keep the calf operating at a maintenance level for growth isn’t so low. It starts at 59 degrees fahrenheit. To this end ILLINOIS uses a simple table to guide dairy farmers in how much extra milk replacer a young calf would need when it is cold stressed. The table has temperatures on one side of the graph and the calf’s weight on the other.
The supplemental energy is provided by the standard 20 percent fat / 20 percent crude protein milk replacer. An example of how the table works would be to find the weight of the calf, say 110 pounds, and the temperature outside. If it is 50 degrees the calf needs four quarts of milk replacer. If it is colder, 41 degrees, it would take 4.26 quarts.
The colder it gets the more milk replacer the calf needs in its regular maintenance diet, at least if the goal is to achieve an extra 1500 pounds of milk once the calf becomes a cow. Those wanting to view the easy to use University of Illinois dairy calf maintenance diet table will find it on the Dairy Focus website.