Calves are the future of your herd and taking care of them from an early age, will decrease costs throughout the animal’s lifetime, increasing profitability in your operation. When the temperature drops below 15C, calves need more energy to generate body heat and have less for growth and combating disease. A study done in 2020 on the effectiveness of jackets keeping calves warm concluded "calf jackets do create a microenvironment for the calf and, therefore, act as a barrier to adverse ambient conditions."
With over 50 years experience in designing and producing coats for animals, we’re sharing our knowledge to help you make an informed decision before purchasing any calf jackets. Click here to explore the AniMac Calf Jacket Range.
DOES MATERIAL MATTER?
When looking for a calf jacket, the most important element is the material it’s made of because, this determines how well it performs and how long it will last. The majority of calf jackets are made with synthetic textiles (e.g. nylon or polyester) because they are cheaper to manufacture and are available in different colours and formats.
Calf jackets or calf blankets are commonly used in the colder months and therefore are designed to keep your animal warm. You should focus on finding a calf jacket that describes what the jacket is made out of and how much warmth and protection it will offer your animal. Keep in mind that you don’t want your calf to overheat so the material needs to be warm yet breathable. Here are AniMac we stock calf jackets made from synthetic (polyester) and natural products (canvas and wool).
WHAT IS DENIER AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Often, the calf jacket description will refer to denier (dn) and either oxford or ripstop. Put simply, denier is a strength rating and reflects the thickness of the strand. The higher the number the stronger the material, meaning it is harder to tear and rip. 400 to 600 is perfectly suitable for calf jackets.
Oxford and ripstop are different types of weave. Oxford is a uniform weave that shows no patterns, you can just see a standard weave. However, with a ripstop weave you will see an obvious square within the material. If a rip were to happen, the squares are designed to keep the rip along the lines of the squares, making it easier to repair.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CALF JACKET IS WATER PROOF?
Most calf jackets on the market state they are water resistant. Anything made from a synthetic material is water resistant by nature because the strands it’s made from do not absorb water. However, water will pass through the weave.
Generally, a coat that is water resistant will be treated with a spray on coating that provides a temporary barrier, preventing water coming through to the animal. The downside to a water resistant jacket is that it is temporary and the treatment will wear down with washing and general use. The treatment can last anywhere between 1 wash up to 20 washes. It all depends on the quality and specifications given to the manufacturer.
To check whether your calf jacket has lost its water resistance, simply pour some water over it. If it beads then it remains water resistant, if the water soaks into the jacket then the treatment has disappeared.
Once your calf jacket has lost its water resistance it is more prone to absorb and hold onto urine and scours. If you are going to use water resistant calf jackets, we recommend from time to time, pouring some water on the jacket to see if it repels or absorbs water. There are plenty of equestrian companies that can reproof your jackets at a reasonable price.
The main difference between a water resistant and waterproof jacket is a rubber lining on the underside of the outer. This is part of the textile and will not wash off or wear down easily. This rubber lining is made up of thousands of little holes and those holes are what air escapes from. This makes the outer shell of the jacket breathable, while preventing water coming in, making it waterproof!
One thing to keep in mind when using a waterproof calf jacket, it that is isn’t quite as breathable as a water resistant jacket. This is simply due to the weight and warmth it provides. This would only become a problem when the climate is warmer, not in the middle of winter.
DO FASTENINGS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Far from a fashion accessory, fastenings assist the calf jacket to stay in place as your animal moves. Depending on the design of the jacket, you may find between 2-5 fastenings in total. 1 at the front and either, a combination of belly straps and legs straps or, one rear buckle fastening. There are three main types of fittings:
- Plastic clips
- Metal fastenings
- Hook and loop/Velcro
Plastic clips are by far the most common because they are easy and fast to use. Machine washer friendly, your hands won’t feel the cold during winter when you come to fit the jacket on your animal. The downside is they can get brittle and break with hot washing and cold temps and will need replacing. Depending how you care for them, could and have a limited life of 2-3 years.
Metal fastenings are by far the best in terms of life span. They can come in snap hooks, traditional buckles or T fasteners. The downsize is they are a bit slower and difficult to use. They get cold when it’s cold and could potentially damage your washing machine.
Hook and loop is super fast and easy to do up. The downside is as soon as dirt, hay or bedding gets stuck it loses it stick and the lifespan is not that great. It can be much easier for a calf to catch and undo this also.
Calves grow really fast. So adjustability is a really important factor when choosing a calf jacket. How many straps and how easy it is, should be something you consider before making your purchase.
Plastic clips are easy to adjust in cold weather which is why it is the most common. They slide easier on webbing meaning you don’t have to spend ages adjusting the jacket. Some brands use elastic on the leg straps. While elastic seems like a great idea when new, it won't last very long. After a few washes the elastic does not spring back, staying stretched and leaving the leg straps much longer than is useful.
Once it’s stretched, it simply does not do its job properly. They can be dangerous for you calf as their legs can get caught. Here are AniMac we prefer to use nylon webbing. Our Super Calf Jacket also features adjustable leg straps to fit all shapes and sizes.
CARE AND WASHING YOUR CALF JACKET
If you are already using calf jackets and happy with the brand you use, stick with them. The jackets need to work for you as well as your calf. If you are new to calf jackets or not happy with what you currently use, we would recommend buying a few types to trial and use, before placing a larger order. It may work out a bit more expensive buying 1's and 2's but, it should work out much cheaper in the long run buying jackets that last and work for your farming style. We've put together our Top Ten Tips for cleaning, washing and maintaining your calf jackets.
ANIMAC CALF JACKETS
With over 50 years experience of designing and producing coats for animals, we are proud to offer a range of calf jackets and calf blankets to compliment different farming styles. From canvas to waterproof, from Newborn to large beef, we have been involved in every aspect of the design and function of all of our jackets. Explore the AniMac Calf Jacket Range by clicking below. If you have any questions drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org