10 Easy Calf Shelter Ideas for Farms

Calves, like other young ones, can be quite delicate, especially just after birth. Keeping them well-sheltered protects them from adverse weather conditions and disease-causing situations, taking them to their next phase. A stable shelter and environment also enhance your peace of mind as a farmer, increasing your productivity and dedication.

Nurturing calves doesn’t have to be as time-consuming, tiresome, and demanding as many farmers presume. If you’re looking for a smooth way to navigate through this period, it mainly relies on what their shelter has. Thankfully, you’ve grasped the above ideas to make a calf shelter more than just a sleeping space.

Here are a few ideas to keep calf shelters more effective and friendly.

Idea #1: Enough Space

Space is a crucial factor when it comes to constructing calf shelters. The fact that the animals are still tiny at this age shouldn’t persuade you to build significantly small shelters. Instead, it would help if you constructed large shelters that give the calf room for growth. A tiny space for regular movements, rest, or feeding may be insufficient.

Idea #2: Have a Separate Area

When implementing calf pens, you should embrace a large space, allowing you to construct separate rooms. These spaces ‘quarantine areas’ are for hosting sick calves to inhibit the spread of diseases to their fellows. They’re also ideal for generally vulnerable calves, for example, if it’s injured or under medication.

Idea #3: Remember the Feeding Area

Calf shelters should have a well-designed feeding area separate from the rest. The separation lets a farmer better monitor the little one’s special nutrition needs for adequate growth. It also helps to control the hygiene of the feeds due to the vulnerability of the animals at this age. A separate feeding area is a legal requirement in various provinces for livestock farmers.

Idea #4: Fence Well

Calves may not protect themselves fully from predators as they’re still young and weak. Therefore, the farmer should install a strong and safe fencing system around calf shelters to secure them.
These could include notorious adult cows, stray dogs, foxes, coyotes, or thieves. Fencing calf shelters also enhances hygiene and safety as the little ones stay contained in a particular area.

Idea #5: Keep the Bedding Dry

Another important thing about a calf shelter is the bedding, which refers to the sleeping/resting area. Calf shelter bedding should be soft enough for comfort and easy to clean. Experts advise that sand, sawdust, hay, and straw can be used as calf bedding.

Whatever materials you opt for, you should keep the surface dry and warm to prevent the growth of mould and related fungi. Remember not to use calf-edible materials as bedding, as the animals will likely do it in no time.

Idea #6: Install Ventilation Systems

Your preferred calf shelter design shouldn’t miss a ventilation system in it. Ventilation is essential for calves and other animals, enhancing airflow and moisture control. When designing a calf shelter, you should have different ventilation systems like doors, windows, fans, copula, or vents.

Ventilation systems help to keep the animals dry and warm all the time and enhance their growth rate. However, it would be best to ask a professional how much ventilation calves need to avoid offering too much. It may harm their developing immune system.

Idea #7: Access to Water

Calf shelters shouldn’t lack adequate access to fresh and clean water. Many newbie farmers may assume calves don’t require as much water as adult cows and offer little or none. Even when breastfeeding, calves will often need water for digestion.

So, their shelter should provide access to water, which is also ideal for growth and development. Remember to control their water intake according to their nutritional needs and the vet’s recommendation.

Idea #8: Temperature Control

Sheltering calves isn’t just about constructing the sides, adding a door, bedding, and other supplies. The materials used to construct them should be temperature-friendly to the little ones as they strive to grow.
Experts say calves need an optimal temperature of 15 to 25 degrees Celsius. Hence, farmers should embrace materials that aren’t significantly impacted by temperature changes. Some examples of such materials include wood, metal roofs, vinyl, and gravel or concrete bases.

Idea #9: Proper Drainage

Every farmer must consider drainage when constructing a calf shelter. Substances such as water may pour into the shelter accidentally or during cleaning. Excess water may harbour in the shelter without proper drainage, making it uncomfortable and a gateway to fungi.

Therefore, you should construct a calf shelter on a slightly elevated surface to prevent water accumulation within the structures. Proper grading also allows an easier flow of water to the drainage system. Gutters prevent excessive water flow into the shelter by collecting it in storage tanks or farms.

Idea #10: Add Some Toys

You may not know it, but calves deserve play time like other young ones. Adding some toys to a calf shelter would be an ideal way to enrich their early years. This technique also prevents them from sucking from unwanted surfaces like their naves or fellow calves’. Examples of practical toys for calves are treat dispensers, plastic milking jugs, mirror toys, rubber tugs, scratching posts or brushes, tire swings, and jolly balls.

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