CALVING BARN DESIGN
Calving facilities are only a small part of a comprehensive calving program. But like all the other elements of your program there is value in considering the importance of each piece. Just as there are a number of factors that will affect your decision to calve at a particular time of year you will similarly consider many factors before purchasing the equipment you require for your calving facilities.
The time of year and your location may have an impact on your decision to calve in pasture, in a shelter, or in a barn. Whatever your decision your first thoughts should be towards keeping both your cows and your new calves healthy and happy. You invest a lot in getting your cows ready for calving. Protect your investment by keeping your calving area clean, dry, and protected from the wind. Lay the groundwork with EcoRaster porous tiles.
The following pages provide several sample calving barn plans. All the equipment shown is portable so you can easily remove the equipment after calving season to make room in your shelter or barn for other uses or relocate the equipment to where you may need it.
For your consideration please find to your left several sample plans. Since most calving facilities are installed in existing shelters or barns the attached drawings are only meant as examples. Click on the green circle in the top left corner to see more pictures or select the ‘Enlarge Image’ button to scroll through all the images on this page.
All the systems shown on this page feature the Hi-Hog Calving Enclosure. The barns on the next page will feature the Hi-Hog Calving/Trimming Chute.
The attached plans show a number of features including:
large group pens for cows you are watching
pens for cows that are calving
a calving enclosure for helping cows who need extra assistance
pens for holding calving pairs for two or three days during poor weather conditions.
Some pens have a gate separating them. This gate can be tied back to make a larger group pen or closed to create two calving pens.
If you are looking at laying out a calving barn on your own here are a few tips to help get you started. Consider how your cows will move through your facility. Is the movement safe and efficient for both livestock and handlers? A well-designed facility will permit one person to safely move the cow into the calving enclosure, restrain her in the automatic headgate and render obstetrical assistance without obstruction.
One of the key decisions you will make is where to locate your headgate stanchion. When we’re designing calving barns we try to locate the calving enclosure or the calving/trimming chute so your cows will enter the headgate as easily as possible. The simplest way to do this is to locate the chute where your cows want to go. Since cows under pressure like to return to where they felt safer you will have greater success if you locate the chute to take advantage of this. You should also keep the area in front of the headgate clear of obstructions and distractions. Lastly, try to keep the area around the chute as clear as possible so you will have no restrictions with any procedures you may need to do including having to pull a calf.
Once you have taken care of ensuring your cows will be kept safe, happy and healthy you can consider how affectively you can work in the space.
Take time to look at your calving facilities well before calving season begins. Make sure you have everything you need to provide your livestock with the best care. Your attention will make for happier and healthier calves and lower stress levels for you.
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