Calf hutch development

Calf igloo or calf hutch

Calves are your future dairy cows! A good start is important so that your calves can perform at their best later in life. Studies have shown that a calf that has been given special attention in the first weeks of life achieves a higher milk production than calves that have had to struggle with diseases in the first phase of life. An important part of calf rearing is housing the calves. To prevent the spread of disease, a calf should be kept individually during the first two weeks of life. Here you can choose between a calf hutch or a calf igloo. To make your choice easier, we have listed the advantages and disadvantages for you here.

In order to make a good comparison, we compare the two housing systems in different areas.

Different calf housing systems

Both calf housing systems comply with the guidelines, and the calf igloos even have a slightly larger lying area than the smallest version of a Topcalf Mono calf hutch. The Topcalf calf pens and calf hutches, on the other hand, have other advantages. In the Topcalf calf hutches, the calves always lie at height. Research has shown that keeping calves at height is cooler in the summer, there is less carbon dioxide in the calf hutch and the calves’ breathing is calmer (Moore et al., 2012). Because the calves are at height, body temperature is not affected by the cold surface and urine can drain through the slatted floors, keeping the calf dry on the straw bed.

The Topcalf calf hutches are equipped with removable partitions as sdtandard. This allows calves to be kept individually or in groups in the same calf hutch. It has been shown that keeping calves in pairs and groups promotes their social development.

Ease of work

Both the calf hutch and the calf igloo are easy-to-handle systems. The latest calf igloos can now be moved like calf hutches on wheels. Topcalf’s  smaller calf hutches are equipped with wheels and the bigger calf hutches can be moved quickly and easily with a loader. Thanks to the smooth walls, both the calf calf igloos and the calf hutches are easy to clean.

Nevertheless, there are a number of important differences between the calf igloo housing system and the Topcalf calf housing solutions. A first important difference is the possibility to work standing up. In all of Topcalf’s calf hutches, the dairy farmer can stand upright and does not have to bend down. This is not the case with the calf igloos. With a few calves this is not a problem, but on larger farms with many calves the ease of work plays an increasingly important role.

The Topcalf calf pens and calf hutches also offer advantages over the calf hutches when entering. The Topcalf hutches are equipped with 2-part fronts. These make it possible to enter a calf hutch without disturbing a drinking calf. The Topcalf Duo Easy-clean XXL and Trio Easy-clean offer even more working comfort, thanks to the Topcalf Easy-clean system, which allows you to muck out your calf hutch in only a few minutes.


Calf igloos as well as calf pens and calf hutches can provide good protection against draughts. The Topcalf calf hutches are equipped with ventilation sliders at the back as standard. These ventilation sliders make it easy to control the climate in the calf hutch. Optionally, the calf hutches can also be equipped with a sliding curtain.

Furthermore, the Topcalf calf hutches made of different materials, whereas the Tocpalf calf hutches are equipped with a thick, insulated roof. Research has shown that the calf igloos  heat up considerably during high summer temperatures, whereas the temperature inside the Topcalf calf hutches stays almost the same as the outside temperature. On extremely hot days, the temperature difference between the indoor temperature in a calf hutch and a calf igloo can reach 10 degrees celcius. The insulated roof of the Topcalf system therefore offers great advantages here, in case of strong temperature fluctuations.


Both calf igloos and Topcalf  calf hutches are good housing systems. The dairy farmer will therefore have to make trade-offs. The advantage of calf igloos is that this calf housing system is generally cheaper.

However, at Topcalf we are convinced of our calf housing system where the calves are kept outside, at height. Furthermore, we believe that our calf pens and calf hutches offer added value in terms of labour saving and calf comfort. Working while standing is possible at all times and the insulated roofs, together with the ventilation openings, ensure an optimal climate. The calves always lie on a dry straw bed where urine can drain through the grid floor. In the video below the Karrer family explains why they switched from calf igloos to Topcalf calf hutches.

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