In winter, it’s important—even critical—to keep milk at 100 to 105°F when feeding it to young calves to maintain their body temperatures and conserve energy, says Ann Hoskins, a calf products coordinator for Vita Plus.
“Consistency is also important, and if you live in an area where the temperature constantly fluctuates, you must adjust your protocols accordingly,” she says.
Also consider where you store milk replacer. If it’s in an unheated room, simply adding cold milk replacer powder to water can drastically reduce the temperature of the mix. Ditto for mixing and feeding equipment.
She offers these 7 tips to keep milk and milk replacer warm before calves consume it:
• Use an insulated tank to store prepared milk replacer as you transport it and disburse it to calves.
• Wrap the tank and/or bottles in a sleeping bag prior to distribution.
• Use spray foam on the distribution tank to insulate it.
• If you are feeding a lot of calves, mix multiple batches.
• Use lids on pails to retain heat.
• If feeding in bottles, build an insulated storage box out of Styrofoam or wood while transporting the milk to calves.
• Consider placing bottles in a warm water bath during transport, although this can be wet and uncomfortable for calf feeders as they distribute bottles.
Finally, Hoskins recommends taking temperatures during the mixing and feeding process to ensure temps stay within range. “Make sure the last calf’s milk temperature still falls between 100 and 105°F,” she says. “Always feed youngest to oldest to make sure the youngest calves get the warmest milk.”