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Hello everyone!

I have a couple of questions if anyone can help.

First, we are in the process of building a new calf barn and are going to start bottle raising holstein bull calves. We have a small herd of stock cows at the moment (25 cows and 7 heifer calves) My question is should we go ahead and lime the barn before we get our calves or after the first batch? We havent had any disease with our stock cows just some bad eyes with our calves from weeds.

Next, we are planning to put a wood stove in our barn for these cold winters we have here in VA, is there many disadvantages for heated barns?

Finally, what kind of bedding would you recommend? hay, straw, or wood chips?

Thank you for any information you can provide me with.

Jennifer :)
 

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I like having a good layer of lime in the barn so it is easier to scrape later without tearing up the dirt so bad you have hills and valleys.

I would not heat the barn. Cattle do just fine in the cold, even little calves as long as they are dry and out of the wind. I think a heated barn just makes it harder on them to deal with the real world and though I have no scientific evidence for this...it seems like it would cause diseases to spread more. Warm barns get condensation, which makes things damp and humid, which germs like.
A dry, draft-free (mostly) area, well bedded with straw is downright cozy for a calf.

I do have my own portable heater than I will put in the barn when it's really cold, if I have to do something for a long time that doesn't let me move enough to stay warm. It's for me though, not the cows.

I use straw for bedding. Cheaper than hay, easier to clean up than wood chips.

Jena
 

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Jennifer,
Definitely lime your pens ahead of time! It will make life so much easier for you cleaning-wise. I agree with Jena on heating barns for bucket calves. They raise them in Minnesota and North Dakota in nothing more than overgrown dog houses. So an unheated barn with straw would work fine in Virginia I would think.

Razorback21
 

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Ok, here's my 2 cents worth.
Use straw for bedding, hay's too espensive and they'll try to eat it. Wood chips might grow on trees in VA, but around here they cost lotsa money, and I wouldn't use them for anything bigger than a rabbit.
Also, we have cold winters, and there's no way I'd heat the cow barn, especially with a wood stove. Some cow will start scratching it's rear on the stove and it's the Chicago fire all over again.
Cows are outdoor animals, all they require is shelter from the wind and dry straw to sleep on.
Just out of curiosity, why are you raising holstein bulls? :confused:
 

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Cornhusker, the reason we are raising holstein bull calves is for just a little hobby. The holstein heifers are way to expensive for us right now. My mother-in-law has a dairy farm and she will give us her heifers but for now we are just hobbiest. The bull calves are really pretty cheap around here and for us just starting out we are going to try the bulls. And raise them out to about 400 or 500 lbs and then sell them.

Thanks everyone for all your replies. I will definatly lime the barn before we put our calves in.

Still in the process of building it. We are putting the metal on the sides of it right now.

Talk to you soon.
Jennifer
 

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When I was growing up in Montana, we didn't have any barns for out cows and we calved in February. Even at -20 we never had any problems. We had a lot of brush that they could get in out of the wind and they always did fine. The problem you have is when you get hot and cold temps and they you end up with sick calves.

Bob
 
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