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Calf Jacket Top Tips

Ann Coombes


Calf jackets are great and if used correctly can help preserve energy and increase growth rates. However if used incorrectly calf jackets can cause serious health problems. 

We spoke to our National Youngstock Specialist Team Leader, Ann Coombes for some top tips on using calf jackets this winter.

When should you use calf jackets?

During the first 3 weeks of life, calves are extremely vulnerable to changes in temperature and as a result calf jackets can help maintain their energy.

Low temperatures ranging between 10–15°C can be critical for calves. This is dependent on air speed but please be aware of the housing conditions. Premature calves and sick calves may need to wear jackets for longer so that they can build up their strength.

Purchasing and fitting jackets

  • When purchasing calf jackets please ensure that they are breathable and waterproof.
  • Only use clean jackets as this reduces the spread of disease.
  • Only put jackets on dry calves.
  • Make sure the jacket fits the calf correctly and covers the calf’s body, from neck to tail.
  • As the calf grows you will need to adjust the straps, we recommend on a weekly basis.
Fitting calf jackets correctly

Cleanliness

  • Remove dirt from jackets with a water hose or if necessary pre-soak.
  • You can wash jackets at 60°C+ in a washing machine with detergent but please don’t use bleach.
  • Please do not tumble dry.
  • Ensure jackets are completely dry before use.

Farm protocols

  • Agree a specific calf protocol with your team. Include low temperatures at which calves will start to experience cold stress. We suggest that below 10°C for three consecutive nights is a good starting point.
  • Record and monitor the daily temperature in your calf sheds using a min-max thermometer.
  • To preserve body heat make sure your calves have enough dry bedding to nest.
  • Remove jackets in the morning.
  • Complete removal of jackets will entirely depend on the condition and appetite of each calf. We recommend this criteria: calves should weigh above 55kg, drink 6 litres/day and have no health issues.

Be vigilant

  • Calf health is heavily dependent on good management and as a result calves should be checked regularly, in particular under the jacket to ensure no signs of pneumonia.
  • Calves with scours should have their jackets regularly replaced.

For more information

For more information on calf protocols, feeding programmes or jackets please contact your local Youngstock Specialist or send us an online enquiry here

How to wash calf jackets
The Knee Drop Test