Increased Calorie Needs in Winter for Livestock
Livestock Calories: Have You Increased Enough for Winter?Livestock can experience a rise in health issues when the temperatures drop. The cold air, snow, rain and even mud can lead to animals needing to increase metabolism to maintain body temperature (i.e. they need more energy just to stay warm). It’s even worse for calves because they have far less body fat. To keep them healthy in the cold months, they can build that extra energy with additional calories. We’ve got the winter insight you need, along with a few supplements and other products that could bring that needed boost for your animals.
Lower Critical Temperature (LCT) for LivestockAnimals have a unique thermoneutral zone or temperature range they’re most comfortable in (that’s also best for their health and performance). The bottom of the zone is called the lower critical temp (LCT). When their body gets below this temp, the animals experience cold stress and need to increase metabolism.
LCT can vary for each animal:
- Cattle: 59°F summer or wet; 45°F fall; 32°F winter; 18°F heavy winter
- Goats: 32°F
- Horses: 40°F with a summer coat; 18°F with a winter coat
- Sheep: 50°F if freshly shorn; 28°F with 2.5 inches of fleece
Harsh Winters May Lead to Weak CalvesCow nutrition throughout a pregnancy is important, but poor late gestational nutrition can directly impact the calf’s health and make them weaker at birth. A cow’s poor nutrition can also affect the colostrum quality and/or quantity which also plays a big role in calf health.
Once they do arrive at birth, calves have only 3-4% body fat so their LCT is different and must be carefully monitored. At less than 3 weeks old, a calf’s LCT is 59°F. Anything below that causes calves to pull from fat reserves to meet their maintenance energy needs just to stay warm. But those reserves get depleted quickly in the cold because calves have such little body fat to begin with.
Keep Calves Warm with Extra Calories this WinterOn average, it’s good practice to increase calories by 1% for each degree the temperature drops below an animal’s LCT. There are different ways to increase calories in calves: supplementing fat, giving higher-fat content, or increasing the amount of milk replacer. Here are a few popular products our customers turn to regularly to boost their calves’ energy during the winter.
Colostrum & Milk Replacers
Merrick's Blue Ribbon Power Punch
Dyne High Calorie Nutritional Livestock Supplement
Use for miniature or full-size calves, as well as goats, sheep and swine.
Vitamin E+AD Injectable for Cattle
Vitamin E 300 Injectable for Livestock
Don’t Forget About Water
Get the Calories Your Calves Need from PBS Animal Health