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Calf and calving facilities farm survey

As the workload on most Irish dairy farms reduces it’s important to take time now to plan for calving next spring. The best starting point is to take an audit of your current facilities to quantify if you have enough space for rearing calves and calving cows. Patrick Gowing Dairy Specialist explains

Audit your current facilities

In a compact spring calving herd (90% 6 week calving rate) if you retain your calves on average for 4 weeks before selling your surplus beef calves, at peak you will have 72% of the calves born on the farm at one time.

Each calf will require a minimum of 1.7m2 per calf lying space. It is important that farmers, using the worksheet calculate if they have enough space on their farms for next spring. If not you should explore options so see if you can increase your capacity to rear all the calves at peak. This may include converting a straw shed into a calf house or maybe using hutches on an empty silage pit to cater for the peak calves next spring.

For a calving area we recommend that you should have an area for 10% of the herd to be on straw in a designated calving area. Each cow will require 7m2 if she is feeding off the lying area or 10m2 if the feed area is incorporated into the lying space.

Having adequate facilities can reduce labour and disease pressure on your farm next spring. Now is the time to start planning by completing the audit of your farm.

Download the Calf and calving facilities farm survey (PDF)

Calf and calving facilities farm survey

Estimated calf house requirements (% of total calves on farm at peak)


Peak Calf numbers ____________ x 1.7m2 (calf floor area requirement) =________________m2 (A)

Calf shed Housing on farm:

Overall total calf floor area (B)                                                                     ________________________m2

Surplus/Deficit calf floor area (B-A)                                                             ________________________m2

Calving area

Requirement for 10 % of total cows calving in calving area @ 7m2 if feeding on designated feed area and 10m2 all on bedded area with no separate feeding

Number of cows _________  X 0.1 = _______ cows X ________m2 allowance =___________m2 (C)

Feed Space

Number of cows__________ X 0.05 = ________cows X 0.7m = ______________m required feed space

Calving area on farm:

Total Calving area on farm                                                                              __________________m2 (D)

Surplus/deficit calving area (D-C)                                                                   ___________________m2                                                                               

The Teagasc Dairy Specialists issue an article on a topic of interest to dairy farmers every Monday here on Teagasc Daily.

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