Calves can be raised in individual hutches that afford them the opportunity to move around, be fed individually, and allow for good ventilation and ease of cleaning. The key is to have the hutches placed about 2 feet apart to avoid contact (spread of disease). They should be positioned facing south, and placed on a well-draining material, such as a layer of sand, gravel, or stone for proper drainage. The hutches should also be well bedded. Straw and/or shavings as a top layer make a dry and comfortable bed. Fencing can be placed around the hutch (Figure 1.) to give the calf the opportunity to exercise. Hutches may also be placed in greenhouses or barns during harsh winter weather, but it is not always necessary since the hutch affords them warmth. At weaning, or about 8 weeks of age, calves outgrow hutches and need to be moved to alternative housing.
Another option, which may be more cost effective, is to have the calves in individual pens under a greenhouse structure (Figure 2). If housed in groups, calves should have 30 square feet per animal. Avoid housing systems that place calves on cold concrete, rubber mats or slatted floors.
Weaning to 6 months of Age
Transitional housing for weaned calves up to 6 months of age can be a shed with pasture, or group housing in a hoop shelter or shed. Heifers in group housing need at least 35 square feet per animal.