Feed Lot

FEB 2018

Feedlots and cow/calf operations in the beef industry who feed 500 or more has annually on grains and concentrates; maintain 500 or more beef cows; backgrounder, stocker/grower, preconditioner; veterinarian, nutritionist, consultant

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C alves born in cold weather suffer adverse effects if they don't get right up and nurse before they chill. How well a calf can cope with cold starts with nutrition of the dam, and the fat content of her feed in mid-to-late gestation. Dr. Russ Daly, Extension Veteri- narian, South Dakota State Univer- sity, says cold stress in calves may be aggravated if the cow is in poor body condition or doesn't have ad- equate protein and energy during late gestation; the newborn calf will have decreased amounts of brown fat for energy reserves and chills quicker. "Protein and energy are crucial, and research shows that supplying supplemental fat to cows in late gestation helps the calf be better prepared to handle cold weather," says Daly. Also, if cows have ade- quate levels of protein they pro- duce a healthier, more vigorous calf at birth, and better colostrum. Timely ingestion of colostrum is a big factor in whether a calf can handle cold. "I was involved in a study with Holstein calves in which some did not receive colostrum. In cold weather, it was obvious which calves had gotten colostrum and which didn't. There's much more to colostrum than antibodies. It con- tains much higher levels of fat and protein than regular milk," he says. If the calf gets too cold before he can suckle, he won't get the colostrum he needs—and gets even colder. Colostrum contains 2 to 3 times the fat of regular milk, and provides energy to keep warm; he can handle the cold much better if he's nursed. "A newborn calf with a full feed of colostrum can quickly absorb lipids (fats) and amino acids, and this aids metabolism; the body doesn't have to burn so much brown fat to keep warm. Most calves that are adversely affected by cold stress were unable to nurse," says Daly. Force-feeding colostrum can make a difference in survival. If a calf becomes too chilled, he may not absorb antibodies as readily when you do feed him. Calves that have undergone cold stress are more likely to have prob- lems with scours, pneumonia and other infections. "Stress—whether from cold, or a difficult birth—can interfere with optimum absorption. If it's a ques- tion of warming him or giving colostrum first, don't delay on the colostrum," says Daly. Bring him i n f r o m t h e c o l d a n d p r o v i d e colostrum at the same time he's starting to warm up. Steve Hendrick of Coaldale Vet- erinarians, Coaldale, Alberta, says it's important to have lots of bed- ding if cows are calving in cold weather. This may help keep a new- born from chilling so quickly; there's more chance he'll be able to suckle before he's too cold. In se- verely cold weather, calving cows should be moved into shelter. Get colostrum into a calf imme- diately if he's already cold. Even if he's indoors, if it's 5 hours before he gets a belly full of colostrum, he'll suffer more cold stress than if he was able to nurse within the first hour. "Even if you get the calf warmed up, if he hasn't nursed you are behind the 8-ball. He needs nu- trition from colostrum and the an- tibodies to protect him from dis- ease," says Hendrick. 18 FEED•LOT  February 2018 COW/CALF CORNER Cold Stress in Calves u Strategies to warm a cold calf By HEATHER SMITH THOMAS

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