The Division of Agriculture, Setting and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has highlighted the “essential function in rearing” that calf housing maintains, with the School of Agriculture, Meals and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) providing recommendation to farmers on methods to greatest home their calves.
Dairying improvement advisor at CAFRE, Trevor Alcorn, has mentioned that calves have been historically housed in previous or redundant buildings on farms historically.
Nonetheless, he mentioned, with herd dimension rising and fewer availability of labour, many dairy farms have renewed, or are within the strategy of renewing, calf housing.
Alcorn urged farmers to discover the number of choices obtainable relying on their farm’s particular necessities.
He mentioned all calf housing ought to meet the essential necessities of being clear and washer-friendly, dry with extra moisture frequently eliminated, and draught free.
Alcorn additionally offered extra detailed recommendation on methods to preserve calf housing at its most effective and match for function.
Good hygiene for younger calves, Alcorn mentioned, is crucial as their immune system shouldn’t be totally developed.
Roughly half of calf deaths are as a result of poor hygiene, in accordance with the event adviser.
Alcorn urged farmers to think about all-in or all-out techniques with all supplies simply cleaned and never porous and take into account the milk preparation/cleansing/drying areas.
Dry and good drainage
Alcorn insisted that each one calves ought to have a dry mattress “always”. “Elevated moisture or dampness can have an opposed impact on calf well being and efficiency,” he mentioned.
He suggested that making use of a 1 in 20 slope in straw-bedded pens will assist enhance drainage, and drainage channels must be inserted to gather run-off.
“At all times guarantee calves are nicely bedded – apply the knee take a look at – that’s, in the event you can kneel on the pen flooring and never get moist knees then there may be ample bedding,” he mentioned.
Air flow is necessary, Alcorn mentioned, because it ensures that viruses die as quickly as doable and it reduces the quantity of bugs and ammonia within the shed.
“The inlet space must be two to 4 occasions larger than the outlet space to make sure air motion,” he mentioned.
“Yorkshire cladding and raised/ventilated ridge are usually used. Intention for airspeed of 0.15-0.30m/second and relative humidity of <80%.
“Calves is not going to radiate sufficient warmth to generate the stack impact so take into account mechanical air flow to assist create the proper air motion.
“Whether it is doable, web site the constructing on the windward aspect of the farm the place it’s getting the cleanest of air.”
Alcorn mentioned that calves saved on a person foundation, in pens or hutches, have to be allowed direct visible and tactile contact with different calves.
They need to even have ample house to face up, lie down, flip round, stretch and groom, he mentioned.
Alcorn listed the house necessities for particular person calf pens as 1m x 1.5m for these underneath 60kg, and 1m x 1.8m for these between 60-80kg.
His house necessities for group housing of calves have been:
- 1.5m2 for teams of calves between 50-84kg in whole;
- 1.8m2 for teams of calves between 58-140kg in whole;
- 2.4m2 for teams of calves between 140-200kg in whole.
Calf housing at CAFRE
Alcorn mentioned the calf housing strategies in CAFRE’s Greenmount Dairy Centre have been just lately strengthened by the development of an open-sided apex constructing with the usage of calf igloos.
The design allowed for six igloos, 40 particular person calf pens, two computerized calf feeders with six feed stations, a straw storage space, milk preparation room, storeroom and isolation space for sick calves.
Alcorn mentioned the Greenmount design permits for unrestricted airflow, minimising of illness resistance, giving calves alternative of an igloo or bedded pen and particular person pens which have stable sides/cowl to cut back draughts.
“There isn’t any greatest match answer for calf lodging. It should rely upon what works greatest for every farm and what the circumstances are,” Alcorn mentioned.
“Newer developments are typically extra modular, cell development, largely constructed of plastic, which tends to supply higher thermal properties for calves.
“Additionally they have a tendency to supply housing for smaller teams of calves independently, while permitting for straightforward growth.”