Calves and cold weather

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Carrie_O

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Hello Everyone!

It's been so long since I've posted that I couldn't remember any of my login info and had to create a new profile! I do check in weekly and appreciate all of you who generously share your expertise!

We have a small herd of Angus and, over the years, have moved to a fall calving schedule. Last year, our winter was so mild that the cows stayed out in the pasture all winter. The calves did great-not a single case scours, runny nose etc. Christmas this year brought the return of snow and cold temps (5-10 degrees at night, 20-30 during the day). My question is this: At what temp would you bring the calves into the barn at night? Our pastures are hilly and provide plenty of wind breaks. In the past, we'd bring them in if it got much lower than about 20, or if we had freezing rain, but it sure was nice not to have to haul manure last year or treat for scours! I know they are healthier outside, but is there a point of diminishing return with young calves and cold weather? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Carrie
 

snake67

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Carrie_O":2czg1o0x said:
Hello Everyone!

It's been so long since I've posted that I couldn't remember any of my login info and had to create a new profile! I do check in weekly and appreciate all of you who generously share your expertise!

We have a small herd of Angus and, over the years, have moved to a fall calving schedule. Last year, our winter was so mild that the cows stayed out in the pasture all winter. The calves did great-not a single case scours, runny nose etc. Christmas this year brought the return of snow and cold temps (5-10 degrees at night, 20-30 during the day). My question is this: At what temp would you bring the calves into the barn at night? Our pastures are hilly and provide plenty of wind breaks. In the past, we'd bring them in if it got much lower than about 20, or if we had freezing rain, but it sure was nice not to have to haul manure last year or treat for scours! I know they are healthier outside, but is there a point of diminishing return with young calves and cold weather? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Carrie

Ours have never seen the inside of any type of shelter other than trees

If they are fed and healthy and out of the wind they will be fine

Millions of cows live outdoors and calve outdoors with no problem

Our cows will calve in the bush on snow and some straw in late Feb to end of Mar

The temps - if all goes well will be above freezing during the day and not drop much more than a few degrees below freezing at night - makes it easier on me when I check them

My best

Bez
 

Grandpa

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Same here. My cows and calves stay outside and have done just fine in temps down to 7 degrees. Of course, it doesn't get that cold very often in Texas. We have a large, heavy stand of thick timber where they go when it's windy or just extremely cold. The one small barn I have has an open shed on one side, so they can decide when or whether to go in.
 

tsmaxx47

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i don't know where you're from carrie o, but i have an open shed for the cattle and the only time that they use it is it is to escape cold rain..........
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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I do have bitter cold nasty winters. Our calves are born inside, but are put outdoors with mom's in about 24 hrs. They just need wind protection. We do have some 3-side calf sheds that only calves can get into, and they do use them when it's really windy - or a cold rain. Other than that, they are outdoors w/ dam.
 

Nite Hawk

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A neighbor who runs about 400 head told us that for a long time he calved out in Feb. and they tried a March calving. This fellow has a weigh scale on his place, and feeds a number to butcher weight, so weighs his cattle fairly often.
He said that the Feb born calves were basically the same size as the March calves at shipping time, and he credited the lack of growth in the Feb born calves to the often extreme weather conditions that can hit during that month, and that the calves were often struggling to just survive the extreme cold, whereas the March calves the weather was milder and they didn't have to struggle so much to just live.
However, he lives in a "cold spot" where the temperature is much colder than alot of the surrounding areas. We are talking about the MINUS -20 F* degrees and maybe MINUS 30F* or somtimes colder temperatures, that may hit in Feb.-- (on newborn calves that are wet cold and shivering.)not PLUS 5 F* or warmer and calves that have been up for a while and have a bit of age on them.
As long as the temperature isn't extreme, or there isn't freezing rain, and they have lots of food and dry place to lay down, whether it is a barn or under trees, I wouldn't worry too much unless one was sick.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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In our area - you either want to wait til late April/ early May when you are about ready to turn out on grass to calve - or calve before mid March. March & April are generall MUD MUD MUD. Nothing zaps a calf faster than mud & cold rain (33 F - 45 F) - even after you get them up & sucking & dried off. You can provide all the shelter in the world, but most newborn calves will follow mom out to the feeder - which can be bellie deep on a newborn. Even if they find a dry-ish spot to lay down near the feeders, all the cows have mud on their feet & sooner or later they are stepping over the calf & getting it muddy.
 

Bigfoot

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It doesn't really get too cold here for cattle. It does get too muddy for me to calve December, January, and first half of February. I am of the opinion cattle are better off outside. They find a windbreak. I blanket and stall horse anytime it's below 20 degrees.
 

Nite Hawk

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March is also concidered our "break-up" month, because ice starts to "break-up" in the ground ( and often so does our roads! :( )and turn into mud depending on whether it is an early or late spring.
However, most farmers want their calves ready for sale by middle September through December, and want them weighing an average between 500--800 pounds, so they can't wait much longer for a calving season. They need the fresh spring grass for the cows to produce lots of milk, and the calves to graze on to get that kind of weight quickly.
Almost no one fall calves in this area, in fact I only know of one farm that I have came across as far back as I can remember that has a fall calving season, as it just costs way too much to feed a large number of animals through the long winter. Very few farmers calve out much later than March in this area, unless it is a specialty market...
Nite Hawk
 

Crazy Farmgirl

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I have a split calving (some spring some fall). My fall calves are born late sept -early nov. We have some pretty brutal winters and have never put the calves in the barn and never had any cold related issues. The cows have a barn they can go into but most don't unless is cold and rainy. I would not worry about getting the calves in, they will do just fine outside.
 

ChrisB

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To be fair, she did say thanks in her original post.
 

angie1

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It is interesting to me how many of you are posting about cold or freezing rain being the exception to shelter needs. I said the same thing earlier in the fall on a different thread, and you would have thought I was promoting bringing them into bed with you. :roll: The "Lifes A Bytch" club must be out stepping over sick calves.
 

Dave

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I never worry about just low temperature cold weather but cold and wet does bother me. I have several places that they can get in out of the rain.
 

snake67

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angie":foa6oyzc said:
It is interesting to me how many of you are posting about cold or freezing rain being the exception to shelter needs. I said the same thing earlier in the fall on a different thread, and you would have thought I was promoting bringing them into bed with you. :roll: The "Lifes A Bytch" club must be out stepping over sick calves.

I can feel the "love" here! LOL

You are a prairie gal and know those animals do well outside

Many do not

Be safe

Bez
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Dave":1rreg3ve said:
I never worry about just low temperature cold weather but cold and wet does bother me. I have several places that they can get in out of the rain.
Exactly - cold is not the problem - with the exception of extreme wind with the cold & they have no wind break (trees, valley, etc). My herd can be solid white with frost, laying in the snow chewing their cud, perfectly comforable. Wind, wet & mud - bad bad.
 

angie1

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snake67":232wo5rb said:
You are a prairie gal and know those animals do well outside

Bez
New Years we had -17F on New Years with -30F windchill, and I never considered that the cattle couldn't take it outside even though they would have been warmer in the chest freezer.

Tonight much of central Mn is getting freezing rain, and I think cattle should have a shelter to stand under. I am pleasantly surprised that I am not alone in thinking that based on the response to the last time this subject came up.

Shouldn't you be hiding under a bridge waiting for the Billy Goat Gruff to cross?
 

snake67

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angie":eo9xqjsd said:
snake67":eo9xqjsd said:
You are a prairie gal and know those animals do well outside

Bez
New Years we had -17F on New Years with -30F windchill, and I never considered that the cattle couldn't take it outside even though they would have been warmer in the chest freezer.

Tonight much of central Mn is getting freezing rain, and I think cattle should have a shelter to stand under. I am pleasantly surprised that I am not alone in thinking that based on the response to the last time this subject came up.

Shouldn't you be hiding under a bridge waiting for the Billy Goat Gruff to cross?

LOLOL!

Actually I have closed my office door - removed my boots and have my feet up on the desk - killing time until I can call a buddy in Japan about a shipment of stuff that needs to get to the antarctic

Cheers

Bez
 

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