Moving calves from individual housing to group pens can be a traumatic experience for them. However, you can minimize the stress with proper housing, says Sam Leadley, calf- and heifer-management specialist at Attica (N.Y.) Veterinary Associates. For instance, provide at least 25 square feet of resting space per heifer.
“If heifers are disturbed frequently, which happens with reduced resting space, heifer stress levels increase,” he notes. “This stress is a precondition for illness and poor feed conversion efficiency.” Also, be sure that there is enough bunk space for all heifers to eat at once and that waterers offer easy access during all weather conditions.