1.5m dairy calves to create housing pressure

It has been a challenging market for dairy calves recently
It has been a challenging market for dairy calves recently
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Dairy farmers are being advised to get their calf housing in order ahead of what is set to be one of the largest spring calving seasons on dairy farms in decades - agriculture Minister Michael Creed last week urged farmers to be ready for 1.5m calves.

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Tom O'Dwyer of Teagasc said autumn is a good time to do prep work around the farm.

"Calves need a minimum of 1.7 square metres of floor space. One bay in a calf shed, measuring 4.8m by 5m (or 24 sq m floor space) will accommodate 14 calves," he said.

Mr O'Dwyer said getting calves out to grass early can reduce labour, but it won't reduce your peak calf numbers, and the requirement for adequate calf accommodation.

"Solutions to overcome shortages in calf accommodation will depend on the scale of the accommodation deficit," he said.

"Suitable calf accommodation must be draught-free, well ventilated, well drained and easily cleaned.

"If you have a small space deficit, then calf hutches located on a silage slab could be a good option.

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"For some, a mix between existing calf sheds, calf hutches and selling calves early will provide an overall solution."

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