You hear it time and time again:
“I’m tired of feeding calves out in hutches”
“I’m tired of feeding calves in the dark all winter”
“Frozen water buckets are the worst”
These are just a few of the complaints I get from clients on the things they hate most about feeding calves outdoors in the winter.
Some people argue that outdoor raised calves do better, that’s a matter of opinion. While calves raised in hutches take minimal ventilation management, and have little risk of cross contamination or disease spreading from calf to calf, they also come with their own set of challenges.
Some things that you deal with in hutches that you would not have to deal with in an indoor housing facility:
- Bedding that has been soaked through by the elements (snow, rain, sleet, etc.)
- Requiring you or your employees to work in all conditions outdoors.
- Calves with frostbitten ears, nose, etc.
- Moving snow to be able to feed calves.
- Dealing with sick calves in bitter temperatures.
- Cleaning out hutch areas with bedding that is frozen to the ground.
- Increased bedding usage.
- Decreased feed and water intake.
- Decreased ADG.
- Increase in labor costs.
- Increase in wasted feed (wet, frozen)
- Increase in feeding costs (if you choose to increase milk fed).
There is some good news though. Most, if not all of the issues listed above can easily be mitigated with the proper use of indoor housing options! Indoor housing comes with challenges of their own, but one of the biggest challenges you will avoid will be dealing with the unpredictable weather. Also, indoor housing does not have to include the use of artificial heat. There are many indoor housing options that don’t include spending money on heat. You will also be surprised about how much labor you can save just by bringing your calves indoors.
If you are looking to bring your calves inside because you are tired of being out in the cold all winter, but don’t know where to start, send us a message! We would be more than happy to help you get started on your journey to simplified calf raising.
Change can be daunting, but your calves and employees will thank you.