This is how good calf husbandry works in Schleswig-Holstein

14 April 2022 | Int. Livestockhousing Guide |

Raising healthy calves with plenty of fresh air and space in the IglooSystem Calf rearing on the Pahl dairy farm in Borstel, Schleswig-Holstein, runs smoothly. A Holm & Laue system for outdoor housing is the means for healthy calves on the farm.

Rearing calves outdoors
Frank Pahl is delighted at the benefits of keeping his calves outside all year round on his farm. The calves are protected by a monopitch roof and grow up first in individual hutches and later in two MultiMax hutches and a Holm & Laue Igloo. This system has changed his calf rearing significantly: healthy animals, excellent weight gains, enhanced performance in the cow shed later on and more efficient working hours. “This version of a calf barn works wonderfully for me and, in addition, was a much smaller financial outlay than all the alternatives,” says Frank.

A new calf barn for the dairy farm 
A new additional barn was built on Pahl Farm in 2016 in order to increase capacity. However, more cows also mean more calves and it quickly became a bit cramped in the old indoor calf pen. While the old calf rearing system was just about satisfactory, the incidence of disease was steadily increasing and Frank knew that he would soon have to come up with something new. After careful consideration and research, Frank decided on an outdoor system from Holm & Laue for his calf rearing. “I did a lot of research and looked at different types of calf pens. Actually, it was supposed to be a Holstein calf barn. But then I went to a barn of this kind and noticed that the calves were coughing. And I thought to myself, that’s not the answer. I’m not going to build a new barn and then have my calves start coughing. So I kept on looking,” Frank says.

The farm manager came across the outdoor calf rearing system: “An acquaintance of mine works with a Holm & Laue CalfGarden and I took a look at it. Not a single calf coughed or looked ill. – I was excited. And then he told me that his calves grow 365 days a year. I couldn’t believe this statement at all until I noticed it myself with my calves in the new barn and the way my new calf rearing is going – and that is something that makes me happy every day. My calves are doing very well and you can see that in the animals and in the numbers. The calves in the new barn register a steady weight gain of over 1000 g. We never got close to 1000 g in the old barn.”

Whole milk feed with MilkTaxi and milking robot
The new husbandry system was set up at Pahl Farm in 2018. Individual hutches, two MultiMax hutches and an Igloo were erected on concrete floors and under a monopitch roof. Frank’s calves spend their first weeks of life in the individual hutches and are provided with ad libitum whole milk feed. Later, he stops ad-libitum feeding and steadily weans the calves in the MultiMax hutches. “It all works out very well. A Holm & Laue MilkTaxi was also added to the new calf barn. The Taxi’s functions ensure that adapted weaning is child’s play,” says Frank.

– Would you like to know more about whole milk feeding for calves? There are more posts on this topic in our blog. You can read about the Metzger-Petersen organic farm here. –

The calves receive their whole milk directly from two Fullwood milking robots, which were installed shortly after the construction of the new cow barn. Milk is pumped directly to the MilkTaxi via a separate pipe if required and can then be fed.

Frank Pahl is now the third generation to run his farm. There is plenty to do here with around 100 cows, 1000 pig-fattening places and 200 farmed hectares. We are delighted that our systems can support him in his calf rearing and that he is so satisfied with them, and we would like to thank him for this friendly conversation.

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