Second Look Holsteins LLC in Eden, Wis., has been using greenhouses to raise its calves for 14 years.
This operation has two 60 calf greenhouses and 40 calf hutches. “We’ve learned that calves do best in the greenhouses in the summer and better in the hutches in the winter,” notes Linda Hodorff, co-owner.
The greenhouses are cool and comfortable for the calvesin the summer. The hutches keep the calves cozier in the winter. The trick to winter success in the greenhouses is keeping the ridge on top and roll-up sides open for ventilation, then using calf coats to keep the calves warm, and plywood behind the wire pens to minimize draft.
A gravel base with landscaping cloth on top helps drainage, and the farm uses shavings or straw for bedding, depending on time of the year. Each greenhouse is 30-feet x 120-feet. “We built two greenhouses so that a couple times per year, each greenhouse is empty to break disease cycles,” notes Hodorff. “When we get the occasional calf in the greenhouse with respiratory (ailments), we put her out in a hutch.”