Beef Buzz News
KSU Veterinarian Offers Advice on Keeping Newborn Calves Alive During Brutal Cold
Tue, 16 Feb 2021 10:08:04 CST
When a baby calf is born during severe cold conditions, beef producers should try to get that calf dry and warm immediately said Dr. A.J. Tarpoff, Kansas State University Extension and Research beef veterinarian.
Ron Hays Beef Buzzes With Dr. A.J. Tarpoff
We’re seeing a lot of photos on social media this week as producers struggle to keep the babies alive during this brutal cold. On today’s Beef Buzz, we check in with an expert on the best ways to accomplish that task.
Adult cattle are pretty robust as they have that huge functioning rumen that acts as their heater core in the winter, Tarpoff said, however calves are a different story.
Once baby calves are dry, they have a pretty thermal hair coat.
But when we have some wind when they first hit the ground, we have some issues, he said.
When a calf hits the ground, the normal internal temperatures should be between 101 and 102 degrees, Tarpoff said.
We start getting into signs of hypothermia below 100 degrees, he noted.
The KSU scientist advises cattle producers to get a rectal thermometer and that is the best indicator of how extreme the cold stress is for the animal.
When the calf is born, the internal temperature is 101.
Below 95 degrees we could see cooling of the internal organs, he said.
At this point the calves just wander around are unresponsive and suffering from “dummy calf” syndrome.
Once we get into the mid-80’s internally those animals will be comatose, he said.
Our goal is to get them back up to normal temperature, he said.
Tarpoff suggested the floor heater of the pickup is a good place to start by placing a card box with a blanket on top, creating a miniature hotbox.
It could take an hour to warm up that calf and we may have to supplement them with some colostrum, he said.
Other options include bringing them into the shop or barn with heat lamps and blankets.
Dry the calf first with old towels before trying to warm them, he said.
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