The comfort of our cows is always a top priority – but especially our little ones – our calves – and especially in this cold weather! Calves are the future of every dairy farm, and therefore farmers take extra measures during the winter months to ensure they all get off to a great start!
One thing we do to help our calves in cold weather is to provide them a coat of calf jacket. These tyke-sized coats that are custom tailored to fit calves and help keep their body warm. Calves aren’t the only ones that benefit from these jackets – our dog, Oliver, appreciates these coats on cold days too!
In addition to jackets, we also make sure our calves are housed in a warm, sheltered area. On our farm, we keep our calves in small groups, inside the barn. On other farms, calves are housed outside in individual calf hutches. Both systems provide adequate shelter from winter’s rough elements, but also offer lots of soft, warm bedding, fresh air and the freedom to move around.
Like us humans, we need to do more than just bundle up. When we are outside in the cold, our bodies use more energy just to maintain itself. Cows are no different. So on our farm, we make sure our animals have lots to eat. For our calves, we will actually feed a third bottle of warm milk at night to ensure their bellies are full and they have the energy they need to stay warm. Depending on the size and age of the calf, we may also give them a little extra colostrum or milk replacer (comparable to infant formula) as an extra precaution.
Caring for baby calves is a 24-7 job, regardless of the weather, but in cold temperatures like we’ve been experiencing her in New York, extra care is needed. Extra bedding, an extra layer with their calf coat, extra food, and extra long hours on the part of everyone to ensure these little ones not only survive, but thrive is critical.