Hi. I’m a young farmer, who has taken over the family farm in the last few years. We have 65 sucklers cows – a mix of limo’s, Sim Blondes, BB, but will be increasing this to 80 in the next 2 years. I have culled heavily in the last few years to have a full continental herd in the next few years .i.e. no fresian influence in the cows. I also have a handful of pure bred limo’s for breeding sale bulls etc. The herd is winter calving so the calves are small when in housing, and are sold as weanlings at 10-12 months.
Anyway, the problem is that my farm yard layout is to spread out, with the cows in 3 groups.it’s very labour intensitive and time consuming -feeding mucking out etc. The sheds are straw bedded with a few cubicles, large enough holding yard (in poor condition)and a large enough dung steed. I’m hoping to put all the cows and calves under one roof. As I work part time (spring time on large neighbouring dairy farms) I want a shed that is minimal (if such a thing exists) in labour and feeding times etc . I don’t mind spending a few bob on the RIGHT shed or LAYOUT, as I have no other expenses i.e. no home or land mortgages, so this will be a one off – life time job, and I want to get it right. It has to be right for me and the cows & calves (light & ventilation a must!!!). Also I am lucky as I can do alot of the work in house i.e. Digging back filling, smaller welding jobs, and have a few mates out of work that are good with concreting etc. Before you ask – I was working over sea’s when the grants where available – and the auld man was happy the plod along with what he had.
As I live in an area of large dairy farmers it’s hard to get a feel or a look at a good layout for a similar sized suckler herd as myself. So this is where I’m asking for advice. What do you have??? What would you like to have, What would you do different if you were doing it again???
Here are a few of the layouts I have come up with
Option 1 – New sheds incorporating 4 rows of cubicles – 2 either side of a large central area that will be the creep area for the calves, plus a handling/crush along one wall. The passageway between the cubicles will have auto scrappers, with the slurry going into two slatted tanks on either end. Theses tanks will also be the feeding via barrier area for the cows – with a creep gate making some of the barrier area available to the calves as the get bigger.
I already have a modern separate shed set out into calving boxes/sick bay etc.
Option 2 – Same as above, only the passageways have slats with shallower tanks – again these tanks are connected to the main tanks on either end – doing away with the maintenance/running costs of the auto scrappers
My mates are saying that 80 calves will struggle to seek out their mothers in both the above options
Option 3 – Four rows of cubicles, with passageways either slatted or scrappers, one main tank/feed barrier to the front, with a large open concrete yard to the rear – which will lead off to a separate creep shed for the calves. The yard will also have the handling/crush area. This yard can be scrapped into the existing dung steed – which can also act as a over flow for main tank/feed area. More room for the cows & calves to mingle.
Option 4 - Two 14’6 or large span tanks back to back under one roof for the cows (no cubicles), with feed barrier to the front, with again a large open concrete yard to the rear – which will lead off to a separate creep shed for the calves. The yard will also have the handling/crush area. This yard can be scrapped
into the existing dung steed – which can also act as an over flow for main tank/feed area. More room for the cows & calves to mingle. But is cows lying on slats no dangerous – cows walking on udders etc, plus dirty udders for calves to suckle
Probably the cheapest option – but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option
Option 5 – Half and half – slightly smaller slatted area with no cubicles (as above) the maybe 2 rows of cubicles with slats/scrappers and a creep shed for the calves.
As I say it’s hard to know the right layout. What do you use, please describe you shed layout i.e. slats creep – how calves mingle among the cows etc. What do you think of the above option – which is the best??? Are there any web sites with suitable pictures or layout plans etc
Any advice would be appreciated
Your post is a little on the long side, so probably take a while for people to read it right.
To get you started, here is a copy of the department spec on Buildings;
Should be other links of interest here also;
pat the lad welcome to boards, this is my second reply to your thread as i deleted the first because you were not asking me for advice as in SHOULD YOU PUT UP A SHED,you are determind to put it up by reading your thread,will 80 cows find their calfs and 80 calves find their mothers yes they will,i have cubicals and auto scraper into slatted tank that cows feed from had a indoor silage pit the other side of cubical wall and made that my creep area for calves to sleep.
sorry Pat, I tried to read your post but I fell asleep after the first hour...
My only advice is keep it simple! Visit plenty sheds and ask lads what they would do differently.
One thing I hope to do with time is incorporate an outdoor pad that the calves can go out to. A paddock close by for early grazing is also an option with the cows still confined to the shed.
Also think about where you'll calve the cows and where you can stick sick ones easily.
Jeezes Pat, what a first post, welcome to boards, we don't usually write essays on here!!
You say you have 3 seperate groups, can you build on to any of these?
Do you have access to straw?
What part of the country are you in?
Cubicles are grand, bit of a luxury for suckler cows though, will cost you over a grand per cow. That would be ok maybe if you're thinking of milking a few yrs down the road.
My motto is KISS
I'd suggest a large straw bedded shed with a slatted feed passage across the end, or down one side. This way you can adapt it later on if you have to.
Maybe build it on to your existing calving pens? depends on space around it.
Without seeing it I can't say anymore, except that the profits(?) in suckling aren't able to justify palaces for cows. And as already said go look at what other beef farmers have.
Welcome to boards
- Cubicles a no no for suckler cows in my opinion for a start. We ripped ours out and made calf creeps out of them instead (spring calving so we don't need creep to be any bigger per pen)
- Plenty of ventilation would be my second piece of advice. Use space boarding or space sheeting all around (gables and all) and also the roof.
- As for layout you seem to have alot of ideas there yourself (not that I read any of them) You know your yard best and what alterations or new builds will work.
- Don't be afraid to walk into a few yards either and ask a few farmers their views. We must have visited about twenty different yards before we built and there are still things we'd change!
My question to you would be, do you think this was a wise move, given that it's milk that rears calves?
keep it simple _ _ _ _ ? or wha
Thanks for all the tips and advise lads - keep it coming. Sorry for pissing ye off with thread being so long - won't happen again
Just on the straw bedded shed - was hoping to avoid having to but large qty's of straw for bedding - also giving the price of it- but I know where your coming from - thanks.
on the Heavy culling - Alot of those cows were getting on, so I replaced them with continential heifers - mostly Limo's & Simmentals after bulls with decent milk. Now my cows are no world beaters on the milk front - but the seem to have plenty for their calves, who are achieving good weights at weaning with very little meal!!!
Your not wrong there! Straw bedding is a bit of a luxury when it has to be bought in. We just use some around calving time, you can't cut corners there if you want to avoid infections/calf scours.
An uncle of mine built a shed for stores (without a grant) that had a slatted feeding area with a lye back area at the back of much the same area. This was sloped something serious towards the slats, I'm talking some 3' higher at the back wall! Cattle loved it, were always lying back on it as if it was the side of a hill, urine flowed off it and what muck they made they worked back down to the slats. Might be an idea of some sorts if you want to keep bedding costs low.
I've heard mention of this before. Interesting to hear that it works well. Is that 3 foot higher at the back wall? Over a distance of roughly14 foot? That is a fair slope alright!
Thanks Muckit - sounds very interesting novel idea. Would it be too slippy though for cows pucking and shoving their weight around???? also might be slippy for young calves - what you think.
Also would the animals lying down hill of the others not get covered in urine & crap as it worked its way to the slatts???
I wonder could you bolt down a few cubicle mats at the top of the slope to encourage them to lie up there, and scrape it off twice a week with a tractor and yard scraper?
If you got the angle of the slope right would it be self cleaning? What I mean is if it is too steep only the urine flows off laving the **** behind. If it is too gentle a slope it stays covered in ****. Maybe you could funnel it a bit so that it slopes in from the sides as well towards a central channel?