Compost bedding in the pre- and post-fresh barn at Five Star Dairy is a win-win for both cow and calf comfort.
The compost in the barn, which was built a couple years ago on the Elk Mound, Wis., dairy is tilled twice a day, says co-owner and DCHA member Jean Amundson.
“The compost heats so when you sit down on it, it’s warm – even in the winter time,” Amundson says.
During extreme cold weather, the natural heat generated during the composting process helps cows avoid frozen teats and helps prevent frozen ears on newborn calves. Calves move from the calving area to a warming room. In-floor heating in this room also helps to warm newborns and dry their hair coats before they move to outdoor hutches.
Warming calves is important for antibody absorption, Amundson adds. “They just don’t absorb antibodies out of the colostrum well when they’re cold. You can give them all the colostrum you want, but they’re not getting the goodies out of it.”
Making sure newborns have a clean, dry environment is one of several housing benchmarks advocated by the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association in its Gold Standards I. Assess how well your operation meets these goals and make changes to fix shortcomings that can jeopardize calf well-being and health.