Calving in -40 weather.

Help Support CattleToday:


Well-known member
Oct 31, 2006
Reaction score
Alberta, Canada
People in warmer climates have asked how we calve in cold weather so I have a pic of what I do. Thankfully most have been born on relatively warm days.
This is Locket's calf .Locket is a pure bred heifer and I knew she was going to calve soon, so I did a 4 am check as it was -41 with the wind chill, and at 7 am when hubby did a check before work he saw Locket and her new heifer calf. The heifer was walking around already but her little ears were frozen and she was very cold. In these cases I take the calf on a sled and put it in the shop in a hutch, the shop is kept just above freezing. She was given colostrum and all of her "stuff" and then bundled up. Hopefully she can go back out with mom around noon as it is supposes to be -15 today..
If calves are born in -10/-15 weather and it is not windy and snowing I usually just put a toque and a sweatshirt on them until they dry off and leave them with mom.


Snug as a bug in a rug.. :) Mom is waiting for her calf at the spot where she calved..
This weather is so tough on the calves. Good job, the calf looks nice and snuggled .
I think someone forgot to turn the heat on to the March thermostat.
HAve you tried kerosine on the ears when frozen. We use that with some really good success. Sometimes we still loose a portion but not as much. for some reason the kerosone draws out the frost. However severly frozen to the head has gone to far.

Hubby has been checking every three hours cause there are alot of girls looking like they want to do something. He tells them every nite, suck it up. I hope they wait until the weekend when it warms up. But then we are suppose to get a blizzard or some sort of ill weather.
Suppose to warm up soon HD. I really hope they are right.
Our pairs out back get a straw bale every other day for bedding plus an oat or grass bale every day.
Only lost one to the cold and one to a tail first presentation.

Just a thought. Was visiting with a guy about building a new calving barn. He told me this one place he worked at had a warming room built on the end of the barn that was heated with a wood stove and they had a couple of pens in there for cows that go into labor during really cold weather. We are seriously thinking about it.
But for now the calf box works just as well, hope we don't end up with 2 or 3 at one time, then we're in trouble. :D

Stay warm HD.
Ours pretty much look the same as your little one does. As soon as mama licks them off I pull a hockey sock over their ears and throw a baby blanket over them. Depending on the calf, we may leave it on for quite a while, or just give up when they lose the stuff. Sure makes me value a quiet cow when I'm doing this stuff. We had 7 born since yesterday morning. Barn is full, well overfull in fact. Had 2 born outside last night, but got to them before they were too cold. If that happens they get a trip into our porch, get warmed up and fed and once they are ready back out to the barn with mama.
Just to clarify, for those of us south of the border, what is -40 C in farenheit? I know it's still too darn cold, but maybe not as cold as it sounds.
dyates":14quqpq4 said:
Just to clarify, for those of us south of the border, what is -40 C in farenheit? I know it's still too darn cold, but maybe not as cold as it sounds.
well when i think of -40 i think of being below zero by 40 degress 40 degrees colder than zero add that too the 100 degree drop to 0 coming out of moma yes its biting ass cold .. edit for the sticklers, as i know ill need too... i know what i said dont make sence, just fooling
Well, baby went back out to mommy. It is -18 now and the sun is shining. I just love that little moooooo that mom does when she gets her calf back. I was a little worried with this being is a first calver ,but usually Gelbviehs have really good maternal instincts and they are calm to boot. Baby drank from a "little jittery mom" at first and all is well. The ears are swollen so that means blood flow is circulating again ,but the toque will go back on when I go out to feed. I hope she doesn't lose them ..

Last year I had 5 calves at one time in my little hutch, they were crammed in like sardines but they were warm.. ;-) The weather is supposed to get into the +'s by the end of the week ,but that means it will be mucky and that is why I would rather calve during cold temps besides the fact that I can sell 650 lb'ers in Sept.

Alacattleman I think the cold temps are what make the newborns pop out practically running, they are probably trying to get back in.. :lol2:

Randi I use the end of sweat pants XXL , I buy them for 10 dollars and cut them off below the knees it gives you two .They wash up really nice as well. I asked my BIL for a few of his hockey socks after getting your advice last year but he said they were still into good of shape for me to use yet..

RR I will put kerosene on my list hopefully for next year though.. Thanks ILH happy calving to you as well.. :tiphat:

Almost done yippee... :banana:

Dry cold ,,actually today is a dry cold the humidity is only 47%... :lol2:
lavacarancher":1nb9mk1h said:
Yea, but it's a dry cold. :shock:
somebody on ranchers yesterday was talking about a calf with a frozen tongue.. the cow was in labor and in trouble, the calfs mouth was trough the vulva with its tongue hanging out .. but was able too pull it and it lived
I had two calves inside and bundled up the last couple days, was down to -20F with windchill. Back out to mamas today and doing great, supposed to be mid 40's (above zero!!) the next 10 days, woo hoo!!
It's been busy for me the last couple days. Very cold and blizzard. My warm up box has been getting a lot of activity.
That 40 sounds pretty good to us Jed. we hit 28 above today and it felt like 50 above after all the days below zero.
Wow.. just looking at that pictures reminds me why we moved from northern Illinois to Texas! I can't take that cold anymore.. and spent HOURS walking out to the barn /pens up north to make check on those cows fixin' to calve. Bad thing is, after going outside into that cold, it's hard to get back to sleep! Burrr!

Interesting that the cows will wait there for the calves to come back out!
I'm in central South Dakota tonight and the outside temperature right now is -11 degrees F (this is the temp with no windchill added) which is equal to -24 degrees C.

By the way, here is a site with a simple conversion back and forth from centigrade to fahrenheit or vice versa:

There must be some sort of rule that you are notr allowed to calve when you are having to use #1 diesel in your truck!

Calving outdoors on pasture right now is about like calving inside your kitchen freezer except your freezer would be warmer!

Most folks in SD calving now do have facilities to calve indoors however.

My cattle in Wisconsin are scheduled to begin calving about April 15th or 19th. I was thinking about moving my bull in date up this summer but just changed my mind! Since my Herefords must calve out on the pasture on their own, the bull in date stays at July 1 !

Latest posts