Top tips for housing your youngstock

It is vital that youngstock housing is fit for purpose to get the best performance out of your animals. By ensuring the correct drainage, ventilation and capacity is achieved, your youngstock can achieve their desired DLWG targets and stay free from disease.

Dairy Nutrition
  • Choose a system that suits
    When choosing a housing system ensure the following points are taken into consideration: disease prevention, health and welfare of the youngstock, housing climate, labour productivity and future housing learning. Youngstock housing can vary so much, any building can hold youngstock however the key priniciples need to be followed are; hygeine, moisture, fresh air, air speed and temperature.
  • Reduce contamination
    Always keep young cattle separated from older cattle, up to the age of six months, this will reduce the airborne pathogens infecting the young calves.
  • Be mindful of moisture
    Reduce moisture levels as excess moisture supports microbial activity and bacterial growth. It's important to be aware of internal and external moisture, ie. blocked drains and surface water run off.
  • Feeders
    Feeders need to be easy to move and maintain. Feed space should be relevant to size of aniamls, 100kg and under need 0.3m, 100-200kg need 0.35m, 200kg need 0.4m and 400kg animals need 0.5m feed space.
  • Keep feeders and drinkers clean
    It's important to keep feeders and drinkers clean to help your animals progress. Additionally ensure there is sufficient drainage around calf feeders and drinkers to collect any moisture and for ease of use when washing down pens.
  • Fresh air
    It is important to have sufficient fresh air and ventilation in youngstock's housing. A lack of fresh air increases the survival of airborne pathogens, gaseous emissions and reduced o2 concentration.
  • Shelter and shade
    Sufficient screen/ cladding to avoid excessive wind speed and no dark corners in the shed.
  • Ventilation
    Make sure fans are circulating air across the whole shed and not causing any elevated air temperatures. In summer months with hot weather ensure all windows/doors and vents are open.
  • Air speed
    The correct air speed is essential for efficient calf DLWG, too much will cause energy loss and too little will cause lack of fresh air.
  • Monitor the temperature in your housing
    Put a thermometer in the building to monitor temperature as calves can suffer with heat stress and cold stress. Also ensure that your calves have enough bedding to keep them warm and dry.