Calf Housing: Part 3 Bedding Types and Considerations

David Kammel, PhD, Biological Systems Engineering Professor for UW-Madison/UWEX and Dr. Vicky Lauer, DVM, Professional Services Veterinarian with ANIMART continue the discussion about calf housing in this podcast about positive pressure ventilation systems.


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


Total time: 3:06 minutes


Liz Binversie: Welcome. This is Liz Binversie, Brown County UW-Extension Agriculture Educator, and I will be your moderator for today’s podcast. We will be continuing our talk about calf housing considerations. This week’s episode is about bedding types and considerations. With me today is David Kammel, Biological Systems Engineering Professor at UW-Madison and UW-Extension. In addition, we have Dr. Vicky Lauer, Professional Services Veterinarian with ANIMART. In this series we’ve talked about different facilities and considerations, but what about bedding? What are the different types of bedding you can use and what things should you consider as you maintain bedding in your calf housing? David, what are your thoughts on this?

David Kammel: I guess I look at several options based on season. I see a lot of calf hutches, for example, that are using sand in the summer. But I would not look at using sand in the winter. At that time, I would be using long straw or something that calves can nest in. In the summer also I would see probably sawdust. Again, that might not be the right bedding system in the winter. Bedding maintenance is all based on how clean do you want the calf and how hard do you want to bed them. It should be done so that there is a lot of dry bedding in the space. The fact the calf stays in an individual hutch for almost 2 months usually and it’s going to take a significant amount of bedding, continually added. Usually you don’t clean the hutch out until after you remove a calf. So adequate bedding is always important and depends on the season. If it’s rainy and wet like we had a week ago, we’re going to have to take extra steps to bed properly compared to a nice, dry, cold winter that maybe is not as wet and doesn’t require quite the amount of bedding. So bedding maintenance and identifying how calves look, how clean they are, are their hair coats getting matted down, will all indicate that they probably need more bedding.

Dr. Vicky Lauer: One bedding type that I’m beginning to see more of are wood chips, which as David mentioned, this would be great in the summer because you can get them from a local mill really cheap. There’s lots of them available, but this would not be a good choice in the winter because again they cannot nest down in it.

Well, thank you to the panel, David Kammel, Biological Systems Engineering Professor at UW-Madison and UW-Extension and Dr. Vicky Lauer, Professional Services Veterinarian with ANIMART. I am Liz Binversie, your moderator for today. Tune in next time for our fourth and final episode of this series where we’ll be talking about how to determine nesting scores.