5th October 2023

Key things to consider when preparing for autumn calving

Autumn calving is upon us again. Whether you run beef or dairy enterprise, calving is one of the most stressful times in both a cow and calf’s life and it’s important to set them up for success.

Here are some key things to think about before autumn block calving.

A clean calving pen can reduce the risk of disease

Improving hygiene around calving can reduce calf mortality by 14%[1], with 50% of calf deaths being attributed to poor hygiene[2].  Additionally, approximately 75% of diseases in dairy cows happen in the first month post-calving, with 50% of cows developing some level of ill health[3].

There are a few simple ways that you can improve hygiene in your calving pens.

  • Clean pens regularly. If you can hear a ‘squelch’ noise when jumping on the straw in a pen, it should be mucked out
  • If you need to assist a cow at calving, wash your hands thoroughly and wear long gloves
  • Wear clean clothes or overalls in the calving shed, with foot dips at the entrance
  • Dip the umbilical cord in iodine solution immediately after birth, and again after 4 hours, especially if the cow has licked the calf excessively


High quality ventilation is key to good health

Newborn calves should be kept warm and dry but with enough air flow to remove excess heat, moisture, dust and bacteria.

Indoor calving pens should be dry with fresh air, but without draughts. Crouching down to calf level will give you a good indication of what the calf can feel.

Natural ventilation is the least expensive and most efficient ventilation you can get, and with the new Calf Housing for Health and Welfare grant due to be released soon, there’s been a better time to upgrade your existing buildings.

The Galebreaker VentTube Fresh can transform existing buildings into an ideal calf shed. An energy efficient fan pulls fresh air in from outside of the housing, while the well-placed holes point the air directly where the calves need it most.

Having the correct level of ventilation within calf housing can help prevent disease while promoting good growth rates and performance.

Healthy calf environment  Calves with VentTube Fresh Ventilation is key as part of a multi-pronged approach to improving calf health


To achieve optimal ventilation, they should be designed specifically for the shed they are to be fitted in, considering shed dimensions, expected stocking density and age of calves, so contact us to find out more.



[1] Improve Calving Hygiene to Cut Dairy Losses | The Dairy Site

[2] Poor hygiene attributed to 50% of calf deaths | LLM Farm Vets

[3] Risk factors for postpartum problems in dairy cows: Explanatory and predictive modeling – ScienceDirect