You asked, we answered. In our latest blog series, we’re addressing questions head-on. This week on our Facebook page, we had a few people ask questions regarding calf hutches.
It’s also one of the questions that dairy farmers get asked most often.
What are those white hutches on dairy farms and are they used for veal calves? The answer is, resoundingly, NO. The animals in the individual hutches on a dairy farm are not veal calves. They are in fact female dairy calves who are being raised to become the next generation of dairy cows on the farm.
The reason that calves are housed in these individual hutches is to keep them safe and healthy. When a calf is born, it does not have a developed immunity system. So, if they were housed together in a group, the calves would be more likely to get sick (think: a daycare with lots of kids who pass around one illness after the next – this would be the same if the young calves were housed together).
The calves are only kept in these hutches for about 6-8 weeks. Once they are old enough, they are moved into a small group of other calves the same age. From there, the calves will stay together and every few months, will be moved into a bigger group of calves of a similar age until they are brought into the milking herd.
The other thing to know about calf hutches is that they provide a safe, dry place for the calves to rest and sleep and that they provide protection from the rain, sun and wind. Each hutch has an outdoor area, so the calves can be outside when they choose. There is also a place in the hutch for the calf to access clean, fresh water and grain. Several times a day, the farmer feeds each calf milk to round out their diet.
Our Milk on My Mind employee, Lisa Perrin Dubravec, was recently on a Georgia dairy farm and did a Facebook Live video from the farm’s calf hutches! Watch it now to get a first-hand account of the calves and their homes.
“Not only are the dairy calves cute, but they are comfortable, curious and content,” said Lisa. “And they just love this molasses grain and to ‘give kisses’.”
Here’s the thing – if you have a question about something that happens on a dairy farm, or a certain piece of equipment, or a story you heard about – reach out to us or to a local dairy farmer. Our team here can connect you with a local dairy farmer to answer questions or set-up a farm visit.
We’re glad you have Milk on Your Mind – keep the good discussion going!!
If you’d like to get more information about calf care from a farmer’s voice, check out these links: