How much space does a calf need in a barn?

Calves (all breeds) housed in groups of 2 to 4 months of age must be 30 square feet per animal and 40 square feet for 4 to 8 months of age. Calves 3 to 8 months old need 4 inches of litter space if hay or silage is always available, or 12 inches if fed grain or TMR. The Midwest Planning Service has an excellent publication entitled “Cattle Housing and Equipment Handbook,” which contains diagrams of work facilities, barn design, and space requirements for livestock in many different scenarios. The barn space for a cow weighing 1,000 to 1,300 pounds is 20 to 30 square feet, and cattle have access to a lot.

If the cattle don't have access to a lot adjacent to the barn, the space required is 35 to 50 square feet per cow. The provision of sufficient space for each calf is the most important determinant of air quality in a calf barn. Based on airborne bacterial density studies1, we recommend that calf pens have at least 3.3 square meters (35 square feet) of sleeping space per calf. We have clinical experience with farms that have tried to successfully ventilate calf facilities by assigning 1.5 square feet (1.4 square meters) of sleeping space to each calf, but have repeatedly failed.

In a shed with cubicles, there must be one space per cow. When it comes to slatted houses and cubicles, it gets a little more complicated. Most producers use loose housing to minimize labor. It is best to separate large heifers from small ones.

If you can, leave plenty of space to eat so that smaller animals don't get displaced. Heifers aged 6 to 24 months should be between 35 and 40 square feet each.

Amanda Endres
Amanda Endres

Passionate food guru. Incurable coffee expert. General twitter nerd. Certified coffee ninja. Incurable music advocate.

Leave a Comment

Required fields are marked *