Calf Housing Podcast-Part 4 Determining Nesting Scores

David Kammel, PhD, Biological Systems Engineering Professor for UW-Madison/UWEX and Dr. Vicky Lauer, DVM, Professional Services Veterinarian with ANIMART discuss how to determine nesting scores for calves.


Liz Binversie, UW-Extension Brown County Agriculture Educator


David Kammel, PhD, Biolological Systems Engineering Professor, UW-Madison/UWEX

Dr. Vicky Lauer, DVM, Professional Services Veterinarian, ANIMART


Time: 3:27 minutes


Liz Binversie: In our fourth and final podcast in this calf housing series, we are going to finish by talking about how to determine nesting scores, what to look for, and recommendations. I’m Liz Binversie, the Brown County UW-Extension Agriculture Educator. I’ll be serving as your moderator for today and with me is David Kammel, Biological Systems Engineering professor at UW Cooperative Extension, as well as Dr. Vicky Lauer, Professional Services Veterinarian at ANIMART. So how do you best determine nesting scores? Dr. Vicky, what are some good practices with this?

Dr. Vicky Lauer: So the University has developed a system involving 3 scores. So a nesting score of 1 would be when a calf is lying down, no bedding covers any part of the foot or leg, so in the summer this would be calves laying on sand or on wood chips or whatever. You’ll just be able to see their foot and their leg. This is fine in the summer. It’s not proper for winter because that calf cannot nest into the bedding. And then there’s a nesting score of 2. When a calf is lying down with a nesting score of 2, part of the leg will still be visible while the other part will be covered by bedding—usually the lower part of the leg would be covered by bedding. So this would be adequate in the winter if the calf also had a calf jacket. If you’re not using a calf jacket, then this is not adequate bedding. The calf can’t nest in there well enough. And then a nesting score of 3 would be really deep bedding where that calf can nestle in and the bedding would cover all the way up the legs, so the entire leg would be covered with bedding. Basically, nice long-stemmed hay or straw is going to be the only type of bedding that would accomplish this nesting score. And a nesting score 3 is what we want in the winter. David, do you have anything else to add?


David Kammel: Yeah, Dr. Vicky, you’re right. The thing that I see quite often in the winter is you can’t expect the calf—even if it’s a deep bed of saw dust or wood chips or I see soybean stubble for example—calves can’t really squiggle down into that and bury themselves into it like they can into a long, deep bed of long straw, wheat straw, those kinds of things. And that’s probably the biggest problem I see on farms where the ventilation system seems to be working properly. It’s a cold environment. They need some protection—that little extra ability to nest certainly helps the environment because they get to choose in that pen where they want to be and usually the problem is either not enough bedding, or wet bedding, or it’s not a bedding they can actually nest in.


Liz Binversie: Thank you to our panel, David Kammel, Biological Systems Engineering professor at UW-Madison Cooperative Extension and Dr. Vicky Lauer, Professional Services Veterinarian at ANIMART for being with us today and sharing all of their great expertise and recommendations.