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calves and hypothermia

angus9259

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I start calving in Dec and Jan in a northern climate (in order to have bulls by breeding season). I'm quite careful to allow the cows to calve in my calving barn, but I'm wondering about the age a calf needs to be to withstand the elements? The upside of having them penned is keeping the wind and snow off them obviously. The downside is sanitation and moisture. I think things just stay healthier outside and I'd like to get them out as soon as possible. I actually understand that January can actually be safer than March to some extent because cold is less dangerous than rain.

Thoughts from you snow birds?
 

redcowsrule33

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As long as they can get out of the wind and the cows are on a good diet, they can take a lot at 2-3 days old. Frozen ground is healthier than mud and rain. But you need adequate windbreaks for them. I think it was Bieber Red Angus that had an ad several years back where they showed the calf windbreaks they use. I can't find it now but basically they were long covered bedded creep sheds with south exposure that the babies could get into easily. The diet and condition of the cows will affect it alot, too, as they need plenty of milk to make energy to keep warm.

IMO it's pretty labor intensive to keep track of everybody, keep the calving pens clean and do a good job with the babies. But if you have the time and the facilities it's nice to have the bigger calves.
 

hillsdown

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I made the decision a few years ago to calve in Jan and Feb. And yes calves do much better in -40 with the ground frozen than in -5 in the mush. We have a large pole barn with tons of bedding and also separate calf shelters for the calves. The key is to grab the calves right away when born in -40 temps and get them dried off ,once dry they go back to their moms with a tuque on for a couple of days so the ears do not freeze.

It is labor intensive and I am sure it cost more for last years calf crop than the years before. When the weather was really bad ,-48 with the wind chill, I grabbed all the new babies as soon as they were born and put them in the "hot box" we made for them in the shop and they also got colostrum before they could even stand.

The upside, I sold my steers the beginning of Sept. before everyone else and got a good price not great but a lot better than what they would have gotten in Oct. or Nov( and they were big they averaged over 700lbs,the heaviest a late Feb calve weighed 795).

So the key to doing winter calving is get food in their bellies and get them dry as soon as they pop out. Then with shelter and bedding they should do great..

But am I not looking forward to it, the first ones are due Jan. 13 and they are usually a week early..Oh and last night first snow fall of the year and now it is pouring rain.. :?
 

msscamp

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angus9259":cyv9lzar said:
I start calving in Dec and Jan in a northern climate (in order to have bulls by breeding season). I'm quite careful to allow the cows to calve in my calving barn, but I'm wondering about the age a calf needs to be to withstand the elements? The upside of having them penned is keeping the wind and snow off them obviously. The downside is sanitation and moisture. I think things just stay healthier outside and I'd like to get them out as soon as possible. I actually understand that January can actually be safer than March to some extent because cold is less dangerous than rain.

Thoughts from you snow birds?

The only time we put anything under the shed was if the temps/wind chill was -50 or lower, the mother in question had problems delivering/the calf had problems nursing, or if she was a first time mother, flighty, and the calf became seriously chilled before he was able to nurse. Even then, it was a non-insulated 3-sided shed with a southern exposure. If a calf had the misfortune of being born in a major snow-storm/blizzard and was found half-frozen, then he usually spent the night on the porch, was bottled, and returned to his mother first thing the next morning. Nobody actually calved in the barn, or even the shed for that matter - it wasn't necessary, and the stress of being isolated from the herd usually caused more problems that it was worth.
 

SRBeef

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Here is an interesting combination calf shelter and windbreaks used in cold windy areas with few trees. I understand it can be moved fairly easily.

http://www.commonsensemfg.com/calfshelter.html

It's 8 degrees F outside right now and the wind has been howling all day. I let the calves into the corral for wind protection tonight. This is their first super cold/windy night since weaning and they don't seem to want to go over to the woods. They tend to stay near the hay ring, feed bunk and mineral tub. I'm not quite sure how to get them over into the woods. Maybe I should move the Crystalyx mineral tub over to the trees?

The cows on the other hand know exactly the spot in their pasture ravine most protected from the wind.
 

angie1

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hillsdown":213defmg said:
So the key to doing winter calving is get food in their bellies and get them dry as soon as they pop out. Then with shelter and bedding they should do great..
You can do what you want with the information you have been given, but from where I'm at, this is the best advice. Sure lots of people do not provide the shelter or attention and that is their choice. The people in this area who choose not to take the precautions hd advises, are also choosing to "write off" a couple calves minimum each season due to poor weather conditions.

Bought cattle one time from a husband and wife that had a 3 sided shed like msscamp talks about. The back 5 feet of it was blocked off from the cows by vertical 2x6's (anything would work). The farmers had layed hay up in there ~ the calves would go lay up in there on that bedding. They were in no way kept from the herd, the mothers were not seperated. The calves came and went as they chose. They were kept dry, out of the wind, with their mothers and with the herd. There were quite a puddle of calves laying up in there too. Then The cows could not go in there and trample things and make a mess, it was strictly a place for the babies to get out of the wind and keep dry. I thought it was a great idea.
 

rockridgecattle

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we calve March/April because January and February are just to brtual here. Even in March we can get those nasty cold -35 nights. We make sure they get feed right away, and they dry off quickly. We have heat lamps in the barn for the new borns until they are dried off.
As well, our cow calf pairs are separate from the main herd. They get alot more bedding and we have shelters for the calves. The calves can stand in them, and are 12x12 feet with chip board, 2x6's rough lumber, and a tin roof. They have wood runners and a cable that hooks on to the feeding tractor and are moved about as we move the cattle around to keep them clean.
The cow calf area starts out at about 1/2 an acre in March and by mid April is around 60-70 acres with alot of trees. The shelters get moved a lot.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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To the original question about how long you need to keep calves indoors. We calve late Jan thru late March in upstate NY which is really cold also. All cows calve in the barn, but cow & calf are quickly put outdoors after about 24 hours - depending on the weather, the vigor of the calf & the pressure of the need for a pen for new calvers. Once the calf is dry & sucked good, they can withstand the cold. But, as mentioned, they should have an area that they can get out of the wind. Whether that is a valley, or a stand of trees, or a manmade shelter.
I do like that shelter that was posted. Wonder how much it is?? should call them.
 

ChrisB

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Keep in mind your in Kansas; your nightime lows are warmer than daytime highs in northern climats. It does make a difference.
 

hillsdown

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Glad you live in the real world Baxter, not only would your calves freeze to death in a matter of hours if born here without doing anything but you probably would too.. :roll:

Our "pole barn" is not closed ever and cows can come and go as they please (they as well as the calves have to go outside if they want to eat or drink), in fact they love to calve in it ..It is a given, even the most standoffish cow will go in it to calve. They have been "trained" from day one to want to go in it. The pole barn is aprox. 1500 square feet and has green house siding on the south side which makes it nice and bright with some heat coming through on a sunny day. And I put in new bedding all the time when needed. We have gates set up to enclose pens if necessary ,for what ever could occur, all around as well as electricity and lights. It is a one man/woman operation or there would be no way I could pull it off. It works well , the cows that are do to calve are moved into this area and sent out to the post area with their babies after a few days. We also purchased 2 more calf shelters 16x12x6 for more shelter for the babies, they get new bedding all the time and are easily moved. After the temps and wind chill last year I am taking no chances.

Like I said earlier the same as Angie, RR and Jeanne, get groceries in them asap and get their little baby bodies warm and dried off asap. Should be smooth sailing from then on with shelter and bedding.. :D

Maybe it is the dairy background in me but I like having total control, and the key to this is management..
 

angus9259

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Thanks all for your replies. I presently have a creep feed gate allowing the calves into the barn and keeping the cows out. Seems to work well once the calves are old enough to move around on their own. It's freezing rain here today - probably let the calf out of the barn tomorrow.
 

angus9259

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ChrisB":296x3hyx said:
Keep in mind your in Kansas; your nightime lows are warmer than daytime highs in northern climats. It does make a difference.


Actually, I believe to understand that he's from Tennessee which makes an even bigger difference. Just picked up a load of cows down there and wished I could calve there every year! In fact, that's why some of mine are calving now.
 

LoveMoo11

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If the calf is healthy and they have adequate shelter to get away from the wind, they should be fine...we've had calves born right into snow banks when the temp is single digits and they get up and start runnin around like its summer.
 

CKC1586

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angus9259":33n5zdkt said:
Thanks all for your replies. I presently have a creep feed gate allowing the calves into the barn and keeping the cows out. Seems to work well once the calves are old enough to move around on their own. It's freezing rain here today - probably let the calf out of the barn tomorrow.

Cold is one thing and wet is another but cold and wet is real hard on those newborns. With this weather we are having here may want to keep them in a day or two more....
 

angus9259

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CKC1586":ifgevn2v said:
angus9259":ifgevn2v said:
Thanks all for your replies. I presently have a creep feed gate allowing the calves into the barn and keeping the cows out. Seems to work well once the calves are old enough to move around on their own. It's freezing rain here today - probably let the calf out of the barn tomorrow.

Cold is one thing and wet is another but cold and wet is real hard on those newborns. With this weather we are having here may want to keep them in a day or two more....

Yeah, that's what I mean by hypothermia. I don't mind the cold as long as they stay dry. The rain's supposed to be over tonight though. It has been rough weather though . . . a lot of snotty noses too.
 

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