Calf's energy demand

Did you know that a calf’s energy demand increases in the winter?
When temperatures drop from 70˚F in the summer to 20˚F in winter, a calf has to spend additional energy to maintain a constant body temperature. This results in a 30% increase of energy needed, or an extra 1.2 Mcal. If a calf does not get enough energy in the winter, growth and overall performance will be reduced.

Contact your local Denkavit representative to calculate a custom energetics spreadsheet for your calves!

Knowledge is power

Yesterday we told you that a calf needs more energy in winter. We have created a calculation tool that determines energy needs for your calves in the winter. Next, you should ask yourself:
What would be the recommended practices to reach that energy level?  Changing to a different formula? Adding an energy supplement? Increasing the solids? Or increasing the volume per feeding?

The answer differs depending on the farm! Your local Denkavit representative is happy to help you answer those questions specific to your facility.

Water intake

Did you know that water intake, leads to more starter intake, which increases the amount of energy consumed by the calf?

Although calves don’t seem to consume as much water when it’s cold outside, it can also be challenging to keep free choice water available in temperatures below freezing. Electrolytes will aid in increasing overall water intake. In addition, the salts in electrolytes will prevent the water from freezing at lower temperatures.Denkavit now offers Vitalfort, an electrolyte specifically designed for calves.


Importance of colostrum

It is no new news that good colostrum practices are vital steps to take in the first few hours of life. But did you know that colostrum provides more than just the supply of neonatal immunity? It also contains bioactive substances, growth cells, and a high energy density. Therefore, in the winter months, the quicker you can get colostrum to provide the necessary energy, the better!

Increasing volume or solids

With a high-quality Denkavit milk replacer, you can safely increase the solids to 15% to help meet the energy requirements of the calf in winter months. To further meet the increased energy requirements, consider increasing the volume per feeding or adding a third feeding in between.


You keep repeating it to your kids every day: jackets, jackets, jackets! If they need to wear a winter coat, then your pre-weaned calves should as well. Especially for the calves younger than a month of age, calf jackets are the best solution to keep them warm. Be aware that calf jackets will only be effective if the calf and its jacket are completely dry, otherwise it will work in the opposite manner.

A calf's nose

Did you know that the calf’s nose is an excellent measure to track calf health? If their nose is cold, the calf is likely not warm enough or not feeling well. Routinely check the calf’s temperature to decide the best steps to take. When the color of their nose and gums is pale pink it indicates a possible deficiency in certain minerals, newborn calves are prone to low iron. A dry nose, on the other hand, can indicate dehydration. It is recommended to offer water, lukewarm with some electrolytes.

Warmer milk

Think about it, on a cold winter’s day, don’t you want a cup of hot chocolate or tea? The feeding temperature of the milk should be even warmer in the winter! Drinking temperatures should be between 105-107˚F, this applies to both the first as well as the last calf to be fed. There are plenty of options to insulate your feeding equipment to ensure all calves have a warm meal. Did you know that this also makes a huge difference in digestion?

Our local Denkavit representatives are happy to explain why!

Give them a little extra time

Delaying weaning is a great tool to get more energy into your calves. Of course, this is the last thing a producer wants to consider, but it does not necessarily mean more milk (replacer). Make sure that the weaning process is gradual, allowing more time for the calves to consume calf starter. It may require some alterations in feeding habits, but healthier and heavier calves are worth it!

Your local Denkavit representative is happy to assist you in developing an updated feeding schedule for you calves.

Keeping things clean

Don’t forget about cleanliness practices in the winter! After the initial rinse steps to remove physical particles with cold water, water used to clean equipment with chemicals should exceed 120˚F. If not above 120˚F, fats, proteins, and bacteria biofilm will stick to the feeding equipment and not be thoroughly cleaned.

Fresh start

This is the perfect time of year to review newborn calf management protocols. With years of experience in the development of standard operating procedures (SOP) we know that not one farm is the same.

Contact your local Denkavit representative to develop a set of SOP’s that best suits your individual calf & heifer facility.

Environment of your calf

Go sit and observe your calves. Take a moment to sit down at the calf’s level to appreciate the conditions they are in. See if you are comfortable with a coat on. Is there a cold draft? Is the air quality better or worse than you thought? It’s also a good time to reflect on all there is to be thankful for in 2020!

Congratulations! You have read all our recommendations to help your calves through the coming winter months.

Want to know more? Our calf technical support team is always there for your support!

Want to learn more about calf rearing?

Find here some more background information about calf rearing and calf milk replacer.