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Calf Hutches – The Top Six Benefits for Rearing Calves Using Hutches
Calf huts have proven to be a great option for keeping very young calves. When they are used correctly (ie, placed on a well-drained surface, facing south in cold weather and north in warm weather), they offer some important advantages over other housing options.
Benefit 1: Calf humps help prevent the spread of infectious diseases
The close-in conditions of a common cattle barn can be a breeding ground for disease. Respiratory problems such as pneumonia are a common risk for young calves, whose immune systems are still developing.
Isolating the small absorbent calf from other calves and the general public greatly reduces exposure to harmful pathogens and microorganisms. Research has shown that most transmission of disease occurs mainly through animal-to-animal contact. Creating some isolation for the young calf eliminates a significant risk to its health.
Advantage 2: Calf hutches are inexpensive
Compared to the cost of building large buildings such as cattle sheds, calf hutches have the major advantage of being low cost. Individual huts can be purchased for around $200 and homemade huts can be built for much less.
Another major cost advantage of huts is the ability to expand capacity in small increments as needed. Building a new barn because you have slightly exceeded the current capacity is not cost effective. Matching capacity to actual requirements is much easier with humps.
Advantage 3: Calf hutches are easy to clean and access
Hutches are light and portable – they are easy to clean. They can simply be moved to a clean area and then equipment such as front-end loaders can make quick work of accumulated manure and old bedding if necessary. Being able to lift them allows for easy access to maintenance, cleaning or repairs as well as to the calf and dam.
The portability and easy cleaning of the hutch provides a more hygienic and healthy environment for the young calf.
Advantage 4: Calf Hutch Portability
Hutch portability, as described above, is a great advantage when it comes to cleaning, but it can also be an advantage if a calf gets sick. You can move susceptible calves away from other calves or the general population, or away from what you think is your own contaminated area.
You can move them to different areas of the lot or pasture, or to an entirely new area.
Benefit 5: Calf humps provide more room
Individual huts can be small, but they are usually larger than stalls in large cattle barns. Additionally, depending on how they are arranged and used, pens can give the calf more freedom to exercise and roam outside, rather than being housed in a large barn stall. More fresh air and comfort means healthier and happier calves.
Benefit 6: Calf humps allow more control and management
The differentiation that comes with humps gives more insight into the health and condition of individual calves. For example, when grouped in a pen or barn, it becomes more difficult to determine which calf is leaving the scours patties. Or, if there are multiple types of scar, which calf shows which type of score symptoms.
When the calves are separated, there is never any doubt as to which calf is showing signs of scarring, so diagnosis and necessary treatment can begin without delay.
Hutches can offer some important advantages on large barns or lots, but there are also some important considerations when using hutches. First, proper ventilation is always important for young calves. Whether you buy humps or build your own, it’s important to ensure proper airflow through the humps. Also, very weaned young calves need clean, dry bedding – especially in cold conditions. A clean, dry, ventilated pen gives the calf the best chance to stay healthy and grow. To learn more about how to restrain calves using calf humps, click here.
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