When the New Wears Off – Transitioning Calves Indoors

You just built an absolutely beautiful new calf barn. Everything is spotless and pristine.

You are so excited for this upgrade! Finally, no more feeding calves in the harsh elements.

Just as you and your calves get settled in and start to get into a routine, things start to slip. You’ve never had problems like this before. Raising calves outdoors in the bitter winter is almost looking better than dealing with all these new problems.

Is it the ventilation? The pen set up? The stocking rates? The feeding system?

Well, that could very likely be the case, but there are a few things to think about before you start blaming the new barn on your new issues.

One of those things could easily be an increased need for cleaning and sanitation that wasn’t as prominent previously. Environmental cleanliness is something that, when in huts, is just routine. You take the whole structure, clean it, sanitize it before putting a newborn calf in it.

When you are suddenly in a building, that is much more challenging. You might think you are doing what you need to do in terms of cleaning and sanitation, but you might be missing some key points.

Mechanical removal of manure OR spraying a sanitation product on the surfaces of the pen are both a good start to optimal cleanliness of your indoor calf facility, but they aren’t enough on their own. Unfortunately, as much as we wish it was, a one-step process will never be the best way to clean.

Here is how we keep our calf barn free of pathogens from previous groups while successfully doing all the things they tell you not to, like pressure washing in a barn with calves in it!

We are confident it works because we have managed to keep our death loss at 2-3% with Salmonella in our barn and we have also eradicated Mycoplasma by using these steps to be SURE pens are clean before putting new calves in them.

Pen Cleaning

  1. Remove all bedding from the pen (if you have it, as we don’t).
  2. Thoroughly soak all walls, gates, and floor with DK-ll mixed at 2oz DK-ll to 1 gallon of water. 
  3. Let DK-ll sit on the pen surfaces for at least 15 minutes or longer to help loosen manure, milk, etc.
  4. Take a scrub brush with soap and water and scrub down all surfaces of the pen OR pressure wash pen if drainage is appropriate to do so.
  5. Be mindful of how much water you use, it has to go somewhere.
  6. Also keep in mind that newborn calves will be in this pen after this, so it needs to be extremely clean when you are finished. 
  7. Rinse soapy water off of all surfaces of the pen. If pressure washing, use a garden hose to rinse surfaces that may have gotten manure kicked upon them from the pressure.
  8. Recheck to make sure you got all of the manure, milk, etc.
  9. Once you have the pen cleaned satisfactorily, rinse the pen down thoroughly again with DK-ll mixed at 2oz DK-ll to 1 gallon of water.
  10. Once dry, put lime down on the floors (if bedding later on)
  11. Let pen sit empty for as long as possible, ideally a few days, but if that isn’t an option, a few hours will be okay. 


Things to consider:

Create a cleaning “stall” around where you are washing, to ensure that you DO NOT get manure or water on any of the surrounding calves or surfaces.

Don’t forget the ceiling!

Be METICULOUS it WILL pay off.

SAFETY NOTE: Do not mix DK-ll with other chemicals, especially bleach. Always rinse between each step before applying other cleaning agents.

If you have any questions for us on our cleaning processes, or if you would like us to create a custom sanitation plan for your calf barn, contact us TODAY!

If you are interested in trying the DK-ll in your calf barn to improve your cleanliness and sanitation for your calves, check it out HERE!

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