The use of calf jackets on dairy farms during the spring has become increasingly more popular, but do they have any benefit?

They are not an overly expensive product to buy, with most jackets costing less than €50 to purchase.

These jackets can be washed and reused so, it does probably make sense to ensure that you buy one that is good quality.


Young calves ideally need an air temperature of between 15-20° in the shed to obtain best growth rates.

This is almost impossible to achieve in February and March, but can be offset by bedding calves well.

Providing calves with a deep bed of straw allows them to nest, helping them avoid diverting energy away from growth into maintaining body temperature.

If the air temperature is too cold and calves are unable to nest in the straw they will direct energy from growth into maintaining body temperature.

Calf jackets

There appears to be no current research that can prove that calf jackets have benefits in terms of growth rates.

Because of this, it would be unfair to state whether or not they have any benefit.

However, most farmers and vets speak very highly of them and how the calves perform when wearing them.

If you are using jackets on calves there are a number of measures to consider: Firstly, the jackets should be left on calves for four weeks.

After this they can be washed and reused on another calf.

It is important that the jackets are washed before they are transferred to other calves to reduce the risk of spreading disease.

Ideally, sick calves should have priority when it comes to jackets, so it might be a good idea to keep a few spare to be used if required.

Another important point is to adjust the jacket as the calf grows to ensure that it has enough space.


Although there appears to be no direct correlation between calves wearing jackets and improved growth rates, in a situation where air temperatures are low, there should be some benefit to providing a calf a jacket to help with body temperature regulation.

During cold weather calves can become cold stressed, which results in them putting more energy into heat rather than growth.

In this situation, the jackets can help the calf to control body temperature and ensure that energy is still being put into growth.