Recent research has made us question the housing of calves in individual hutches. Whilst there is definitely a need for confinement in the early days of life, when the calf benefits from individual attention, some researchers are recommending that calves are grouped up before weaning.
In 2014 a trial done at the University of British Colombia concluded that calves performed better in cognitive tests if they were raised in pairs. The tests suggested that calves in individual hutches were more sensitive to novel experiences than those kept with a partner. When a foreign object was placed in the paired pen the calves soon started to ignore the new object, whereas the single calf remained suspicious.
It is thought that spending calf-hood alone, may produce a more sensitive heifer who will be less willing to adapt to herd life, making life more stressful in the long term. On the strength of these observations Dan Weary, professor on the UBC Animal Welfare Program recommends ‘some form of social housing during the milk feeding period’. Dr. Alex Bach recommends grouping calves for a different reason. His research showed that grouping calves pre-weaning improves solid feed intakes. Higher intakes produce more robust calves who are more resilient when moved into bigger groups.
In order for a calf to thrive it needs space, light, rest, air, water and feed. The NEW Twin hutch from H&L fulfils all these criteria. The Twin hutch combined with the Flexy-fence offers 5.8 sq. m of space i.e. 2.9 sq. m x2 (or 1.9 sq. m x 3) so plenty of space and room for rest. There is room for 3 milk feeders a water bucket and a feed bucket. The buckets are designed to be shallow as US research showed that calves prefer to see around them while they eat. As prey animals, they feel threatened if they have to put their head into a deep bucket which obscures vision. The back of the hutch opens to improve air quality.
The NEW Twin hutch from H&L is designed to attach to the Flexy-fence which flips up on wheels for easy moving by one person. https://youtu.be/6xRleMAUiu4 It offers luxury accommodation for pairs of calves up to 12 weeks old, and can even accommodate a third calf if the calves are small breed. With a hatch at the rear for increased ventilation and easy bedding down.
This design is unique to Calf Igloo in the UK and costs £590 +VAT i.e. £295/calf place (2) or £196/calf (3) making it a cost effective alternative to the single hutches. Prices quoted ex works 28/7/17.
For more info:
- 01568 708380
- 07595 894585