Cubicles: better too many than too few

The first fourteen days in the life of a calf are crucial for the animal’s health, and for its future development. Accommodation has a huge influence. The calf deserves a clean, dry and warm environment. In a clean cubicle, with a thick layer of straw.

The risk of diarrhea is a ­problem during the first few weeks. “Make sure you have enough cubicles,” recommends Lieke Janssen, young cattle ­specialist at Agrifirm in The Netherlands. “Cleaning, disinfecting and leaving cubicles unoccupied for a few days guarantees the lowest possible infection load in the cubicle.” As a rule of thumb, plan to have enough cubicles for 15% of the number of dairy cows. In other words, 15 cubicles for a herd of 100 dairy cows. “If you have too few cubicles, the infection load is high, because a new calf soon has to be placed in the cubicle, after the first calf has moved on. Sooner or later you will end up with ­problems, expenditure and annoyance. And that will cost you more than buying a few additional cubicles.”

The minimum is enough cubicles for 15% of the dairy cows