Harsh weather and freezing temperatures can make it tough for newborn calves to get up and begin nursing their mother's colostrum. Cold temperatures, especially if the newborn is wet, will quickly drain what little energy a calf has following birth. Warming the calf can give them just the little boost they need to nurse and survive on their own.

Rod Peppel, the manager of Martin Livestock in Quapau, Okla., built a "hot box" in December of 1999 to warm calves and says it was a real life saver. The hot box is 2.5 feet tall and 8 feet long, divided in the middle for two calves at once. Each end of the box has a square hole that holds electric heaters that blow hot air to warm the calf. Mr. Peppel attached a lid to the top of the box with brackets.

"Set the calf inside, and it warms up quickly. This is a lot handier than putting the calf in the floorboard of a pickup or in the house," writes Mr. Peppel. "I put skids underneath so it can easily be pulled by truck, tractor, man or horse."