When Wiese Brothers Dairy in Greenleaf, Wis., began raising its own heifers again about four years ago, the transition from calf group pens to the heifer barn didn’t always go as smoothly as they would have liked.
So, the 2,300-cow dairy recently added a “transition” barn for heifers from about three to six months old. The bedded-pack facility introduces the animals to larger groups, as well as headlocks before they move into the larger heifer barn where they stay until just prior to calving. “This barn has really helped decrease stress on the heifers,” says Mark Wiese. He notes increased uniformity among animals, increased productivity, and death loss has dropped to less than 2 percent.
Workers move whole pens at a time, which cuts down on socialization issues. To aid in that process, the barn features extra-wide feed alleys so that a cattle trailer can access all pens — even pens in the middle of the barn if those animals are scheduled to move from the facility before the end-pens are ready to be moved.