Modern calf shelters

November 30

Key areas modern calf shelters must excel in to provide an ideal environment for calves

Cattle and calf housing brings a host of additional challenges in the midst of unpredictable weather conditions and this is especially true during winter when excess moisture can drive the spread of diseases while elevating the risks of animals succumbing to climatic adversities.

Therefore, commercial cattle farming requires dependable structures that can withstand harsh climates to protect and shelter large herds of cattle and their calves. The importance of providing shelter and the complexities of constructing traditional buildings to house cattle have given rise to the popularisation of modular calf houses/shelters.

High-performance modular livestock housing should insulate calves, sheep, and cattle from the elements and create healthy high-welfare environments that promote the improvement of growth rates of calves and lambs, boost yields, and reduce the risk of disease, frostbite, or pneumonia.

Agri Span stands out as an ultimate modular structure for calf and cattle housing as it allows farmers to deliver a high-quality, high-volume product by creating ideal housing conditions as modular calf shelters that increase growth rates and reduce disease among commercial herds.

Read on to explore the key facets of livestock housing that modern and top-tier modular shelters for calves should excel in and how Agri Span outperforms comparable counterparts in this regard.

The main areas that modular calf shelters need to excel in to create ideal environments

Establishing high-welfare housing conditions for calves involves excellent performance in a few crucial areas that can help farmers measure their suitability for sheltering and protecting herds in commercial operations.

  • Adequate airflow

Abundant space and adequate natural airflow are essential for rearing healthy livestock. Calves require an open environment with plenty of ventilation to promote growth and prevent the risks of exposure to disease and pneumonia.

Ventilation that can swiftly draw in and circulate clean air from outside and dispose of warmer/contaminated air circulating within the structure can make a significant difference in the well-being of animals. Poor ventilation can cause a range of respiratory diseases as airborne bacteria, dust, and noxious gases are allowed to thrive in stagnant air.

A proven method of reducing the concentration of airborne bacteria within calf shelters is by increasing the size of the pen if it is too cramped to avoid overcrowding and further improving ventilation within the structure is crucial for minimising the spread of disease.

A continuous stream of fresh air through natural ventilation is the most efficient and least expensive system to provide optimal housing environments within shelters for calves and Agri Span excels here as it is designed to facilitate the movement of air in and out of the structure through the stack effect to optimise airflow.

This means farms get well-ventilated shelters to house calves that reduce disease without having to increase the size of the pen.

  • Temperature control

Another key aspect in cattle and calf housing is maintaining a thermal environment that is not so hot or cold that it significantly affects production or causes distress to the animals housed within.

Generally, for healthy adult cattle, comfortable temperatures may often be found between -15°C and +25°C and for calves, this ideal temperature falls somewhere toward the middle of this range. Hence, it is necessary to monitor air speed in the environment, which is one of the main factors that affect this; for instance, if airspeed is high, the lower-end temperature for comfort will rise.

Effective ventilation within the interiors and unrestricted air movement at low velocity whilst avoiding draughts and ingress of rain and snow must be key functionalities provided by modular or traditional calf houses. Agri Span excels in this regard with perfectly engineered side meshes and efficient drainage to maintain optimal temperature control.

  • Abundant lighting

Sufficient lighting either from a portable or fixed source needs to be present in every cattle house so that the animals can be thoroughly inspected at any time of the day. This has the potential to reduce injuries and related treatment costs.

Moreover, an abundant amount of lighting that corresponds with the natural day-night cycle can also be essential for promoting natural behaviours and reducing stress anxiety among animals. Therefore, housed cows and calves must have access to a space that is 200 lux bright at cow eye level during the regular daylight hours.

Natural lighting is the best method for enabling this as it keeps costs and complexities to a bare minimum, and for this purpose, Agri Span has an integrated translucent light strip that naturally illuminates the space and creates an indoor-outdoor setting for calves.

  • Weather protection

It is highly important for calves to be housed in sheltered environments with access to clean and dry bedding. Farmers must also ensure that calves are not exposed to draughts as this can lower the lower critical temperature (LCT) of calves. Exposure to rain can also be extremely dangerous for calves if some form of protection is not offered. Just 0.10 inches of rain can increase mortality rates by 2-4% among calves at their LCT.

Calf housing in the UK significantly reduces the risk of disease and mortality caused by draughts and rain and a structure must come equipped with adequate drainage and weather-proofing to properly withstand rain, snow, and hail.

  • Calving accommodation

The interiors of calf shelters should be able to accommodate penning and separation for any cows that are housed in the building during calving; they need to be kept in a pen that is fully bedded and must be kept separate from other livestock other than calving cows.

The pens should be of a certain size that provides good accessibility and must be supplied with a method of restraint so that personnel can conveniently and securely tend to the cows and their calves.

With its spacious interiors, Agri Span allows farmers to create pens as required within the structure to accommodate their calving needs.

Speak to a livestock housing specialist to integrate the ideal modular shelter into your farm

Whether you are specifically on the search for the ideal calf shelters or seeking to house commercial flocks of sheep, goats, or cattle, Agri Span creates the optimal environments for housing livestock.

Get insights on what’s ideal for your farm by communicating your requirements to a specialist at McGregor Agri.

Caroline Perry

Nower Dairy

The calves are healthier, happier, we’re meeting that 50 Kilo minimum weight faster it reduces labour, reduces the spend. As a purpose-built system for youngstock, it’s great