Saturday, June 18, 2016

Housing Weaned Calves in the Calf Barn

During a recent renovation of a calf barn the owners doubled the length of the barn. The original calf barn had space in four rows for 160 preweaned calves and at the east end there were two pens for weaned calves (10 calves per pen).

The addition is a carbon copy of the previous one. It was added to the west end of the original barn. Four rows of preweaned calves and at the east end of the addition are two pens for weaned calves (that puts the weaned calves just about in the middle of the blocks of preweaned calf pens).

The original barn was tunnel ventilated with seven large fans on the east end (that's the end where the weaned calf pens were located). The new barn has chimney fans at regular intervals (fans on east end are gone) to draw air up and out of the structure. The entire building has curtain sidewalls that are raised and lowered automatically based mostly on temperature. 

Note that the new ventilation system does not sweep the respiratory pathogen load from the weaned calves out of the barn the same way that the tunnel system was doing. 

Ever since the new barn has been fully populated there has been a chronic problem with clinical respiratory illness among calves less than four weeks of age. 

One idea that came up this past week was to take advantage of the summer weather and house the weaned calves outdoors - out of the calf barn. If we can get these pens set up to use the temperate weather in July and August maybe we can test the hypothesis that the weaned calves are part of the problem with so many treatable cases of respiratory illness among preweaned calves.

Keep tuned for the developments over the summer. 

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