Autumn-born calves should have access to a creep area over winter, providing a dry bed for calves to lie. Bedding material is normally straw, but woodchip or sawdust are also fine.
When calves are forced to lie on wet, heavily soiled bedding or wet concrete slats, they have to burn more energy to maintain core body temperature.
The more energy the calf uses to maintain body temperature, the less energy it can use for growth. If the animal struggles to maintain body temperature, it will become more prone to sickness.
A well-bedded creep pen will overcome these issues. Bedding should be topped up regularly, either on a daily basis or every second day.
Do not skimp on bedding. As a rule of thumb, if you kneel on the bedding in the creep pen and your knees are damp, then more straw is required.
Provide calves with access to some concentrate, a fodder source and, if possible, a water trough. The less sharing of water and feed between calves and cows the better.
Sick calves are slow to feed when fresh feed is offered, so it will be easier to watch for signs of illness.
Also, when calves have access to a separate feed area, there is less chance of being trampled by cows when fresh feed is offered.