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Hutches have advantages for the homestead calf.

Hutches are easy and inexpensive to construct, and they keep calves healthy

Two types of housing are used to raise dairy replacement calves: "warm," and "cold."

One is "warm" because it's completely enclosed, and more-or-less environmentally controlled, such as a calf pen in a barn. The other kind, such as a calf hutch or open-fronted building, is "cold."

Calves that are properly managed will do well in either type.

Proper calf housing should keep the calves dry, free from drafts, and clean. Calf hutches meet these needs and have a number of advantages. For the homestead they can provide easily-constructed, moveable, inexpensive shelter.

A typical hutch is a covered box, typically 4' x 4' x 6' so it's made from .3 sheets of 4' x 8' plywood. The 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch exterior plywood is framed with 2 x 2 or 2 x 4 lumber.

The hutch itself should be enclosed on three sides. The front should be half closed (which uses that leftover 2' x 4' piece of plywood if you cut three 4 x 8 pieces down to 4 x 6 and use two of the 2 x 4 pieces for the back.) The calf can get outside in the sunshine and fresh air, and inside to escape drafts and cold or wet weather.

The hutch can either have an enclosed pen, or the calf can be tethered on a rope.

The hutch should face away from prevailing winds, be located on a well-drained site, and be kept well-bedded. In winter a flap of canvas or cloth over the front will keep out snow and unusually heavy winds and will prevent drafts, but this is necessary only in exceptionally cold weather.

The calf can be placed in the hutch as soon as it is dry and has had at least one feeding of colostrum. It can remain in the hutch until weaning at six to eight weeks.

After a calf is weaned, the hutch should be cleaned and moved to a new location. This helps prevent a buildup of disease-producing bacteria.

Some disadvantages

For larger farmers with many calves, hutches mean a little more labor, and in inclement weather, working conditions aren't as good as they are with other types of housing.

On the other hand, each calf is housed separately, which helps prevent the spread of diseases, and calves do better with plenty of fresh air and sunshine.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Words:402
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