On most suckler farms, spring calving will be nearing peak levels of activity.

As more and more cows move through calving pens, it is important to keep on top of hygiene.

Keeping calving boxes and group pens clean and dry will help get newborn calves off to the best start in life, cutting the risk of a scour outbreak.

At peak calving, time is at a premium. So it is unrealistic to expect herd owners to clean out individual pens after every use.

However, target a couple of pens which are heavily soiled and try to clean them out once a week. Doing this in sequence can help keep on top of things.


In between times, make sure every pen has plenty of fresh straw applied before each use. Straw should be knee deep.

If there is soiled straw in the area where cows stand to feed or drink, scrape the worst of this dung out before putting in fresh bedding.

Spreading hydrated lime on walls, gates and floors can also help to reduce the build-up of disease in calving pens.

Move cows to larger group pens as soon as possible. The less time cows spend in individual calving pens, the better. This reduces the rate of soiling and slows the build-up of disease pathogens.

Ideally, move cows on to slats and give calves access to a straw-bedded creep pen until weather and ground conditions permit stock to go out to grass.

Read more

Dairy management: wet weather plans kick in

Thousands to be saved by switching to urea