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This case study outlines information, specifications, and videos about calf housing sheds built with calf comfort in mind.

Overview

Farmer'€™s name: Werner Lang

Location: Tatura VIC

Structure type: retrofit/conversion; Used as milking shed until 1997

Approx cost: $20K steel, $2K concrete, own labour not costed

Date built: 2003 to 2007

Supplier: Self built

Management system: Group housing

Total no. calves reared per year: 2 batches; 70 in autumn and 190 in spring

Calving pattern: Seasonal

Other: The autumn configuration is to only use half the shed for rearing calves. This is 16 pens, each 3.0 x 3.5 m in size. The rest of the shed is used for storing extra gates, troughs and teat feeders required for spring calf rearing. The width of the aisle between to two batches of group pens, 2.0 m, is only just sufficient for easy access and manouvering of the bike and trailer carrying the milk from the dairy shed.

  • Video tour

    Video tour

    The Lang family takes you through his purpose-built shed that houses 400 calves and features computer controlled feeders for both milk and grain.

    Video takes approx 15 secs to start after clicking the 'play' icon.

  • Images

    Images

    Images of the calf housing shed at Lang.

    Click to view in larger format.

  • Shed specifications

    Shed specifications

    Shed structure:

    Construction materials: 
    Walls: Galvanised iron on west wall and plastic sheeting on east wall 
    Roof: Galvanised iron
    Floor: Cement
    External yard: Nil

    Aspect: Length of shed on east or west orientation

    Dimensions:

    Structure (LxWxH): 54.0 x 9.0 x 4.4 m 
    External yard/calf paddock: Nil

    Roof Design:

    Pitch (1:4): Difference in height/width: 90 cm in 9.0 m, single pitch from west to east
    Roof openings (50-75mm/3m width): Nil openings
    Overhang eves (900mm): Nil overhanging eaves
    Roof height: lowest point 4.0m, highest point 4.9m

    Air space:

    Total air space (LxWxH): 2138m3
    Air space per calf at peak (6-8m3): 11.2m3

    Ventilation:

    Type: passive, fan-forced
    Cooling/airflow:
    6 m wide gap in middle of west wall
    3 m wide gap in middle of south wall
    3m wide gap in middle of north wall
    2 m wide plastic sheeting along the top of 24 m of east wall
    Old building restricting air flow along 20 m of east wall 

    Shed capacity: 

    Maximum no calves housed at peak: 190 calves 
    Month of peak use: Sep/Oct
    Age of calves entering & leaving shed (wks): 0 to 24 hr, calves collected from calving down area once each day
    Age/body weght of calves leaving shed (wks/kgBW): 8 weeks of age, following weaning
    Labour requirements (total man-hours/day at peak use): 4 man hours per day
    Labour hours / 50 calves at peak (total man-hours/50 calves/day): 1.1 man hours/50 calves/day
    Other: Calves are collected once per day following suckling dams for colostrum and an initial feeding of 2 L colostrum/calf

  • Pen specifications

    Pen specifications

    Pen structure:

    Type: Group pens (3.0 x 3.5 m) for 5 calves
    Wall height (mm): 800mm These are purpose built gates.
    Wall materials: (solid/mesh)
    Front: gates with metal slots to join them; removable for cleaning shed
    Sides: gates with metal slots to join them; removable for cleaning shed
    Back: solid wall of west wall; gates with metal slots on east wall

    Other: Only half of shed was fitted out for calf rearing since autumn calves numbered only 70 compared to 190 calves in spring; all the pen gates can be easily removed to allow for complete cleaning of the calf shed floor and walls (using a pressure hose). Leaving the shed completely empty for several months between batches of calves also allows solar sterilisation of the shed.

    Pen flooring:

    Type: Concrete
    Drainage: Concrete slopes (0.5 m in 24 m) from north-south but there is no slope from east-west
    Total floor space per pen (m2):10.5m2
    Floor space per calf at peak capacity (m2): 2.1 m2/calf
    Other: The shed was previously designed as a set of yards and the milking parlour. The slope on the floor is to the centre of the shed (north-south) with no slope on the east-west floor.

    Bedding:

    Type: Wood shavings
    Minimum depth: 150mm
    Maintenance: New wood shavings added weekly and entire bedding is removed following 8 weeks of milk feeding
    Other: Handling and storage system for replacement bedding: Soiled bedding dumped in manure pit at bottom of milking shed

    Feed and water:

    Milk feeding system type: Teats in batches of 5 per pen
    Milk delivery method: (pump/piped, bucket, tank) Whole milk is transported from milking shed in a tank located on a trailer & motor bicycle
    Hay: In hay rack in middle of each pen
    Pellets: Calf muesli fed in 2.5 m long trough in each pen
    Water: Water fed from a bucket, located inside a wheelbarrow tire for stability, on edge of each pen
    Other: Each calf fed 3-4 L/day (twice daily) for 3 weeks then 3 L/day (once daily) until weaning at 7 to 8 weeks of age.
    The calves are offered ad lib water and oaten hay from week 1 onwards. They are also fed calf muesli (20% protein) from week 1 onwards with a gradual change over to calf rearing pellets (18% protein). They are weaned off milk once they are eating 1.5 to 2.0 kg pellets/calf per day.
    The calf pellets are stored in a silo, while the calf muesli is stored in bags.

  • Other infrastructure

    Other infrastructure

    Cleaning & Disinfection:

    Type: batch / continuous flow: Lime is placed on the cement floor prior to covering it with new wood shavings
    Other: The calf shed has been located close to the farm house so the farm family can occasionally wander through it to check on calf health and welfare.

    Biosecurity:

    Boot / hand washing facilities: No strict protocol just rely on common sense
    Access restrictions: None
    Separate clothing/boots: No
    Housing of sale calves: Kept close to access road to sale calf truck for once weekly pickup
    Qaurantine area for sick calves: Yes, there are several €œcalf igloos in which sick calves can be isolated away from the healthy calves.
    Other -€“ colostrum management, record keeping system: Eartags and date of birth of all calves, and sick calves, are recorded

    Feed preparation and storage:

    Facilities (if in calf shed): Sink, fridge, storage cupboard, records / filing cabinet.
    Other: Calves are fed pellets twice daily and pens with high intakes are noted for weaning off milk.

  • Layout

    Layout

    Layout of calf housing shed at Lang.

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