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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Supply plenty of feed and water during cold weather.

Dairy Pipeline: December 1996

by Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition
Virginia Tech

Cold weather increases the consumption of feed by increasing the rate at which feed moves through the digestive system. This reduces the digestibility of the ration but increases the amount of nutrients available for productive purposes as well as energy for maintenance of body heat. That is if the amount of feed offered is increased to accommodate this need. Do not short cows on feed during cold weather. This goes for growing heifers, dry cows, and lactating cows. Baby calves will benefit from higher fat milk replacers that contain more energy. A 20% fat replacer is recommended during extremely cold weather. Remember whole milk will have 25% fat or more when expressed on a dry basis. Supply plenty of clean water for all classes of animals. This includes baby calves that have not been weaned. They still need water. Their water is the first to freeze because it is usually in buckets. Replace frozen water at least once a day. If animals consume more feed they need more water.

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