What your calves need in a pen

Getting your calf shed right is critical. Well set up sheds allow calves to thrive with less energy while costing you less to rear.


Calves need approximately 1.5 – 2 sq meters of floor area so if your existing pen size is 20sq meters then you can comfortably rear 10 – 12 calves.


Calves need access to fresh clean water from day one. Water is essential for their development and calves with access to water eat more grain leading to better rumen development.

What to look for in a waterer:

  • An enclosed water valve so there is less chance of a calf playing with it and flooding the pen
  • A trough with a relatively small bowl will be constantly refilling with clean water
  • Choose a waterer with a drain hole. It will make your life much easier! Remember, never feed calves water from teats – water must be directed into the rumen through the drinking action from a trough. If calves drink water with a suckling action from a teat the water will be directed to their abomasum


  • Ensure your facility is clean, dry and has been disinfected before you lay down new bedding
  • Sawdust, shavings or bark are good options, calves will remain dry and clean
  • When using sawdust, do not remove the sawdust, just add another layer as necessary
  • If you are using a wool shed with slats, cover the slats with a wind break material and then layer your bedding on top. Slats have a constant rising draft and calves will struggle to stay warm and expend too much energy
  • River stones are a bedding option proving to be successful and work well as calf bedding if installed properly and the stones are the correct size of 20 – 40mm. For more information on using riverstones please phone us on 0800 104 119


Calves need good ventilation, in a draft free environment. Calves cope with the cold, but are unable to thrive in a wet, drafty environment.

You know when you have your ventilation right when you can sit in a pen and light a match without the flame blowing out.


A well set up shed with a Milk Bar Pen Waterer at the front and Munch Troughs at the rear. During feeding times a Milk Bar feeder is placed on the front gate.