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04 Jan 2024

Teemore Engineering Mono Calf Building

Teemore Engineering Ltd Hall: 7 Stand number: 658

One of the defaults on many livestock farms is that youngstock and maybe dry cows have ended up being housed in buildings with a long history, and little or no investment. Investment has been focused elsewhere, which is ironic because there is nowhere on a farm that stands a better chance of repaying investment than youngstock, male or female. Provide a healthy start and costs per unit of growth or production, any species, will be reduced for life compared to an animal less healthy. Your calf house might be old and lovely, or a new space along the back of a large steel framed palace, but is it fit for the future and does it make the business good money? A livestock building designed for purpose needs to support five critical areas for good health and performance, including financial performance 1. Provide good hygiene 2. Provide predictable fresh air delivery (are thereby remove stale air) 3. Prevent higher air speeds/ draughts 4. Prevent the accumulation of moisture 5. Support an animal that is predictably cold in the first 2-3-4 weeks of life When a building fails to provide any of the above factors there will be costs to the production system and efficiencies will decrease. Nothing is perfect and so we accept a few losses here and there, and with youngstock often housed in buildings that were never intended for calves, the losses are significant. The hygiene factor is a good example of system failure when calves are kept in buildings meant for something else. Tiny calf houses in old cart sheds and repurposed parlours are great insofar as biosecurity is improved by keeping small and separate groups of youngstock, in separate air spaces. They might be ‘cosy’. But pen hygiene can suffer as many facilities have to be cleaned out by hand; leading to many buildings being constantly stocked and hard to clean properly. Calf health does and will suffer. Fresh air delivery is predictably poor. At the other end of design failure, we see calves kept in one end of a mighty steel and concrete structure for adult cattle, perishingly cold all winter, adjacent to adult cattle and their bugs, and possibly not enough protection from draughts. Youngstock housing designed for purpose should be no stranger to modern farming any more than a new parlour or slurry store or silage pit or feeder wagon, but it is. There is excellent potential to be unlocked on livestock units by paying attention to youngstock facilities, giving them what we know they need, and making our own jobs easier to carry out, more effectively. Invest in youngstock systems in 2023 for the future of your herd and make life easier. (Jamie Robertson)

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