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The Calves of Summer

Jerry Bertoldo, Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

April 11, 2013

Calves do have some advantage over adult cattle regarding thermal stress. They do not have the heat production of the rumen nor the small surface to body mass ratio that limits radiant heat loss in cows. Indoor calf housing provides shade, but often has poor ventilation and unhealthy air. Hutches offer the best air freshness, but minimal protection from the heat on a sultry summer day.

Calves under three weeks of age have a thermoneutral zone between 59 and 78 degrees or so. This means that within this temperature range, without wind, a wet hair coat, direct sun or oppressive humidity, a young calf needs no extra energy to stay warm or keep cool. Beyond three weeks of age the calf likes it cooler. As it ages 70 degrees becomes the upper comfort zone similar to that of adult animals.

Calves that get heat stressed try to cool themselves just like cows. They increase their respiration rate, panting if necessary. Their metabolic rate increases with the rise in body temperature. Their loss of water through respiration increases. The caloric or energy consumption jumps up as well. More energy is diverted from growth to metabolism as calves breathe faster and often become restless due to discomfort. Rates of gain suffer if feeding rates are not adjusted upward. These conditions lead to the release of stress mediated steroids such as cortisol that suppress immune response and higher incidence of disease.

Things to keep in mind....

  • Baby calves will drink 1-2 gallons of water/day (not including that used to make up milk replacer)

  • Calves should spend about 75% of their time lying down 55% in the daylight, nearly 100% at night
  • Straw bedding attracts the most flies
  • Pea gravel or sand makes comfortable and cooling surface in hot weather
  • Any bedding loaded with manure and urine is a source of flies and bacteria as is the area in front of calf pens or hutches where water and feed spill
  • Fans will cool calves, dry up bedding and discourage flies
  • Water and milk dampened starter spoils quickly in warm weather
  • Calves eat more starter between 6 pm and 6 am in hot weather - freshen up starter in the evening rather than morning

  • Temperatures over 85 degrees resulting in elevated body temperatures lead to vaccination failures. Immunizes calves in the cool of the morning preferably











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Upcoming Events

Weed Resistance Management Demonstration and Plot Tour

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 23, 2019
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Waterloo, NY

Come join us on July 23 in Seneca County at Quinten Good's farm for a demonstration and walking tour of 16 different pre- and post-emergence treatments in soybean and 12 different treatments and combinations in corn.
  • Tall waterhemp and marestail are two weeds that are resistant to glyphosate and ALS herbicide modes of action in the WNY and Finger Lakes regions.
  • Each year the number of acres with resistant weed populations expands.
  • For herbicides to be an effective tool in weed management, we have to know what chemistries & application timings are most effective against these resistant weeds.

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Income and Real Property Tax Primer-A Learning Circle for Women Non-Operating Land Owners of Ag Land

July 24, 2019
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Portageville, NY

For many of us taxes can be a mystery, let's have a conversation with the experts about the tax considerations agricultural landowners need to think about. 
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Pasture Walk with the Finger Lakes Graziers-Cancelled!

July 29, 2019
12:45 - 4 pm

The Finger Lakes Graziers pasture walk has been cancelled due to some scheduling conflicts. 
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RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions

June 29, 2019

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions
for 2019 Crop Year

In response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness, the USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules - including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule - serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather.

Read the full article from the New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

The USDA-RMA states that "For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement." PRO-DAIRY specialists Joe Lawrence and Karl Czymmek and Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Professor and Director of Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program have released a letter stating "Corn on Prevented Planting acres meets these objectives."

New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.|1