The needs of housing

The first fourteen days of a calf’s life are crucial for the animal’s health and future development. The accommodation has a big influence. It is essential that the housing of young stock meets the needs of the animals in terms of age and type of housing. Calves grow up healthier if the housing is not overcrowded, well ventilated, has the right temperature, is well drained and clean. Animals of different age groups should not be housed together.



Calves need to maintain a constant body temperature around 38,8⁰C. When the temperature is below 15⁰C, the calf uses extra energy to stay warm. This has a negative effect on growth and resistance. In addition, calves are very sensitive to the effects of heat stress, which occurs at temperatures of 28⁰C or higher. Heat stress causes the calf to expend energy to dissipate excess heat from its body, resulting in less weight gain, reduced health, and growth goals corresponding to its age.


Fresh air

It is important to have sufficient fresh air and ventilation in the barn. Fresh air is introduced into a barn to remove  heat, humidity, airborne pathogens and harmful gases. The recommended frequency of air change depends, among other things, on the season, the barn and the age of the animals. Do you want to check the ventilation in your stable? Then contact our young stock specialist.

Tips for calf accommodation

The accommodation of your young stock is of vital importance. There is plenty to take into account. 

  • Make sure there is sufficient straw. Only use clean and dry straw. Muck out the straw compartments regularly. This avoids the straw overheating, which can result in major temperature fluctuations.
  • Is your straw compartment large? Make sure there is a sheltered area where young calves can lie. For example create a ‘ceiling’ by placing bales of straw on beams which are then installed on the dividing walls in the straw compartments. The result is a sort of ‘hut’ that will prevent your calves cooling down and draught and cold air descending from above.  
  • Do not place calves with a large age difference together (a maximum age difference of two weeks). The natural resistance of young animals is still underdeveloped, so older animals can spread diseases.  
Tips for hygiene by calves

It is essential that you first (thoroughly) clean the calf cubicle before disinfecting them (among others for crypto) to reduce the infection load and the risk of disease.

  • Leaving the cubicle empty and sunlight are valuable additional tools. Outside air and sunlight also have a disinfecting effect.

And what about hygiene in the calving pen? If a new-born calf ends up with its nose in a pile of dung, you can clean and disinfect as much as you like, but it will have started off with a disadvantage in terms of health.

Tips for preventing draughts by calves

Draughts in the cattle shed are the biggest threat to the health of your calves. 

  • Using windbreak mesh, create a large hut in the calf pens. The result is a sort of igloo that prevents draughts affecting the pen. 
  • Prevent acute air displacement! Regularly test with smoke to determine the volume of air displacement. If there is too much air movement, install windbreak mesh. 
Tips for temperature by calves

Young life benefits from warmth. It is therefore of life-saving importance that young calves be kept at the right temperature. 

  • Place a towel covered by a blanket on the back of a wet new-born calf. After an hour, the towel can easily be removed from under the blanket. The moisture will have drawn into the towel, and the calf will be dry, beneath a dry blanket. Keep the calf extra warm for the first two weeks in this way. 
  • You can shave the back of older calves. This helps prevent sweating. 
  • Avoid the temperature in the cattle shed falling too low; keep a close eye on your calves, and in case of doubt never think ‘I’ll wait and see’: immediately check the calf’s temperature and if necessary take measures.  
Different housing situations

Watch the video of Johan Verdaasdonk, young stock specialist for Kalvolac about different housing situations of calves.

Knowledge about housing for you.

How much straw is enough? Do the knee test!

Well organised calving pen

Video | Tips for accomodation calves in group iglo

Transition straw pen to cubicle

What is important when cleaning the individual accommodation for calves?

What to pay attention to in indoor group housing for calves for successful rearing?