Calf-housing pen protocols

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Sunshine Genetics, of Whitewater, Wis., maintains a calf death loss of less than 1 percent with Holstein and Brown Swiss calves born on-farm. That’s especially important, given that all calves born here are high-value embryo-transfer calves.

Karen Marsh, calf manager, says keys to success include the following
calf-housing protocols:

  • All calves are raised in hutches placed 5 to 6 feet apart.
  • Hutches are placed on a gravel pad. 
  • The hutches are rotated seasonally between three different gravel-pad locations.
  • Each pad is cleaned following removal of calves and remains unused for three to six months.
  • New gravel is applied before calves return to the area.
  • Hutches, front panels and feed pails are washed and sanitized between each calf.
  • Absolutely no visitors are allowed in the calf-housing area. This
    includes employees who work in other areas on the farm.
  • Hutches are bedded with straw in winter and dry-wood shavings
    in summer.


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