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