Compiled by Kelly Driver
Have you ever heard the phrase “where there is a will, there is a way?” In this post, I will share some of the most useful and innovative ideas I have come across while visiting with calf raisers. Many of these ideas came about as people pondered a better, more labor efficient way of caring for their youngest herd members. At Calf-Tel our slogan is “Heart Meets Smart” and I believe sharing these ideas epitomizes that slogan. May they be ideas that help bring efficiency…or better yet, spark an idea that makes your workday a bit easier.
Pictured here are two different styles of hutch movers that have been built. Both of them easily attach to the front end of a skid loader or tractor and can be carefully inserted into the front door opening on Calf-Tel hutches to lift the hutches and move them for cleaning and disinfecting between calves.
Pen Wash Racks
A farm in Wisconsin built these clever wash racks for moving and cleaning their Calf-Tel pen pieces between calves. The racks can easily be picked up and moved by a tractor with pallet forks and returned to the barn for use with the next group of calves.
Marking Calf Pens
Here are just two ways that I have seen to mark calf pens, with different colors of bands, pins or tape indicating whether a calf is being weaned, treated, getting electrolytes, or requires extra monitoring because of a difficult birth. Calf-Tel is now offering pen stickers that can be placed on pens to help track calf information and notes as well. Find them here: Calf-Tel.com
This is one of the easiest ways we have seen to move calves from the maternity area to the calf hutches or barn. This box can be lowered to ground level to load and unload the calf easily, saving any heavy lifting by the calf care team.
This simple windbreak is made from a piece of shade cloth and placed on every fifth hutch in a row and the calf team tells me they really help keep the snow from drifting in the front opening of the hutches and provide a nice windbreak for the calves. Each end of the fabric is attached to a piece of 2’X4’ lumber to weigh it down and hold it in place.
Tethering Hutches in Windy Areas
If your hutches are located in a windy area, this idea might be helpful. A calf team fastened this cable catch to the top of each hutch in the row. They ran the cable the length of the whole row and fastened it to stakes in the ground at each end.
Feed Savers & Rain Covers
Are you tired of tossing away grain that gets wet in the rain? Calf-Tel offers a feed saver hood (pictured at the right) that easily attaches to the fence in front of the hutch, keeping calf starter better protected from the elements. Are you feeding weaned calves at outdoor troughs? This calf raiser cut leftover pieces of milking parlor wall board wide enough to help keep the rain from filling the trough with water. They find the calves waste much less grain with these in place.
Weighing calves provides accurate birth and weaning weights to assess our calf program. On the left is a portable scale that can be easily moved with a set of pallet forks on a small tractor. The 3 side walls help keep the calf on the scale for an accurate weight, even when they are still wet after birth. The larger scales on the right are also mounted on a floor that can be easily moved by a tractor with pallet forks, making it very easy to move them to different groups or pens at the calf ranch.
Ease of Working in Calf Barns
These two ideas can save a lot of walking for the calf care team in a calf barn. On the left, this farm left an alley behind the pens that is wide enough to push a bedding cart down, allowing them to bed the pens from the rear while the calves are drinking their milk at the front. The calf care cart on right carries everything the calf team needs as they monitor calves each morning. The rolling cart carries gloves, colored pins for marking individual pens, hand sanitizer, medications, a tube feeder, and a book for recording any observations or treatments.
At Calf-Tel we are passionate about helping calf raisers accomplish their goals easily. If you have tips and ideas that you would like to share with others, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow Calf-Tel on Facebook.
Kelly Driver, MBA has been involved in the New York dairy industry all her life. In addition to raising dairy calves and replacement heifers, she is the Eastern US & Canada Territory Manager for Calf-Tel. Feel free to contact her at email@example.com with your calf questions or suggest a topic you would like addressed in a future blog.
Courtesy of our dealer – CRI REPRODUCCIÓN ANIMAL MÉXICO SA DE CV.