Switching back and forth from the harsh months of winter to the warmer spring like weather can have significant impacts on calves. These temperature swings along with damp conditions can bring on an inconsistency in energy needs and feed intakes. Changing seasons can make it difficult for a young calf to adapt and leave them struggling with variables such as stress, weakness, compromised immune system, digestive upset and pneumonia. This puts young animals at a disadvantage and can have lasting effects during growth and immune development and even affect reproductive performance and milk production later in life.
Calf health hinges greatly on environment, warm bedding, fresh air exchange as well as a high-energy diet, nutritional supplementation and electrolyte support. According to Penn State research, young calves are most comfortable between 55° and 70°F.
Adversely, in the spring, some days can offer temperature swings of more than 50°F in a single day. This makes maintaining body temperature more difficult and could lead to heat stress for the calf. The days that impose a significant temperature swing may lead to a drop in feed consumption, vulnerability to diarrhea and pneumonia, the leading calfhood diseases. Left improperly managed these may lead to death.
Stress, Damp Weather Inadequate Environment brings on Diarrhea
Many factors contribute to diarrhea outbreaks in calves. Exposure to bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella species, viral infections such as rotavirus or coronavirus or protozoal pathogens such as cryptosporidium or coccidiosis can all be factors that lead to calf diarrhea outbreaks on the farm.
Calves need access to clean, fresh water in every season. Water plays a role in rumen development and is particularly necessary for maintaining hydration when consuming high amounts of milk solids. The occurrence of diarrhea can result in progressive dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are vital for restoring and maintaining proper fluid levels for diarrhea/scouring calves and provide energy to support recovery. Bio-Vet’s Calf BaseLyte™ offers electrolyte/nutritional/microbial support for dehydrated diarrhea/scouring calves. It contains a balance of salts and sugars to maximize sodium absorption and alkalizing agents to help calves manage acidosis during diarrhea. Calf BaseLyte™ also contains water-soluble B-vitamins commonly lost during dehydration along with agents to support energy needs.
Wet Weather Brings on Bouts of Pneumonia
April showers bring May flowers, or more commonly seen on the farm, respiratory issues such as BRD in young cattle. Wet and damp weather allow extra moisture into the lungs. This can make young animals susceptible to lung infection, increased levels of stress and reduce feed intakes.
Supplementing with microbial and nutritional products during this time offers support to a young calf. Vitamins, minerals, and direct fed microbials (DFMs) have been shown to boost a calf’s immune function and stabilize their digestive system. A DFM can also be beneficial during veterinary antibiotic treatment to replenish the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria. Bio-Vet’s Gener K™ is a DFM product formulated with beneficial microbials, vitamins, minerals and kelp to support the digestive system with beneficial microorganisms. It also provides nutritional supplements to support immune function, appetite and digestive health. This combination can support your calf’s defenses it needs to fight against harmful pathogens.
Calves Need Energy with Changing Seasons
South Dakota State Extension states that “When the outside temperature drops below an animal’s thermoneutral temperature, increased energy in the diet is necessary.” Outside of water, and a clean dry environment, energy is a key nutrient for calves. They need energy to support their growth but also to battle diseases and infections.
During these stressful season changes, it’s vital to keep calves in peak health, so they can continue to grow and keep a robust immune response to sicknesses like diarrhea/scours and pneumonia. Let Bio-Vet be your partner in creating a winning supplement routine to help your animals, achieve better health and growth. Learn more about products and solutions for calves at bio-vet.com
Published- Bio-Vet, Inc March 2023