Heat Stress can be one of the biggest stressors in calf rearing and must be managed to reach maximum calf comfort and performance rates.
The need for heat abatement in dairy cows is well known and most farms have technical equipment in place that monitors and regulates the cow’s ambient temperature. Heat abatement for calves on the other hand, is not nearly as big of an issue for farmers however it should be!
Calves naturally have a higher thermo neutral zone than cows, due to their relatively small body-mass to body-surface ratio. However, research conducted in the hot Southern California shows that calves indeed suffer from heat stress quiet often. Consequences from suffering heat stress are a compromised immune system that leads to higher chances of containing BRD (bovine respiratory disease) for example. Another research group found that cows that experienced heat stress as calves were older when their first lactation started. Since heifer rearing costs are one of the biggest expenses for a dairy farm, a later entry into milk production increases the rearing cost even more and should be avoided.
Providing heat abatement for your calves will pay for itself. Indoor systems with positive pressure tubes that help the calf cool down with fast air like the Flap Duct system, or outdoor hutches made out of truly opaque material that blocks the sunlight from Agri-Plastics, are a one-time investment that your calves will thank you for with better health and performance.
Check out the following resources on our YouTube channel:
Would you like more information?
Our in-house DVM, Nele Schermeier is available to provide you with information and advice on heat stress and heat abatement in calves. Consultations are free of charge but must be booked in advance. Click on the ‘Schedule a Call’ button below to select a time and date that suits you. Alternatively, you can send an email.
- Lammers, B. P., J. W. vanKoot, A. J. Heinrichs, and R. E. Graves. 1996. The effect of plywood and polyethylene calf hutches on heat stress. Appl. Eng. Agric. 12:741-745
- Jones, C., Heinrichs, J. 2017. Heat Stress in dairy calves. Penn State Publication.
AHDB, 2016. Managing calves in warm/hot weather
- Effect of the environment on the risk of respiratory disease in preweaning dairy calves during summer months
P. Louie, Joan D Rowe, W. J. Love, Terry W Lehenbauer, Sharif S Aly; UC DAVI School of Veterinary Medicine