The topcalf calf village
Everything for calves in one central location: Individual calf housing, group housing and the Topcalf Care Unit. The Booijink family in Broekland (NL) is home to Topcalf’s first ‘Calf Village’. It is fully adapted to the wishes of the modern dairy farmer, with the focus on ease of work and the comfort of the calf.
The calf village consists of two group hutches, five Trio Easy-clean calf hutches and the Calf Care Unit. The Calf Care Unit is the place where the milk is prepared, the buckets are cleaned, the milk taxi stands, the administration is done and other calf related issues. The calf village is made of durable materials that are easy to keep clean. The Calf Care Unit consists of a wet and a dry side, in the dry side the stock of milk powder can be stored. In the wet side the buckets are cleaned with hot water and once in a while the whole area is cleaned with a high pressure cleaner. The entire calving village is provided with electricity and water. The system is a plug-and-play system; just connect the plug and connect the water supply and you’re ready to go.
In the square under the hutches, drains have been made to collect moisture, which runs directly to a septic tank. In addition, there is a manure collector under the Trio hutches. The slurry is collected and also goes to the septic tank. This is the preferred system by dairy farmers, another option is to work with concrete slabs (and sealed seams) or pour concrete. This works clean and easy, the slurry cannot penetrate the floor.
The Booijink family places their calves in the single calf hutches immediately after birth. A heat lamp hangs over the calf until it is dry. If necessary, they are then given a calf body warmer. Housing calves outside has a number of major advantages, particularly in terms of building up resistance and ventilation. Topcalf’s calf hutches are equipped with air vents and an insulated roof to ensure a good micro-climate around the calf. After two weeks, the calves can be grouped together and kept in groups. Using the removable partitions, a group hutch can be made from three single pens. After 6 weeks, the calves can be moved together to the group pen, an all-in all-out system.
“It has to be easy or it won’t happen”
– Bas Booijink
The Trio Easy-clean hutches are equipped with the Topcalf Easy-clean system, making it very easy to muck out the hutches. The Easy-clean system makes the floors tiltable, so that the hutches can be mucked out at the fixed manure storage area. After thorough cleaning, the calf hutches are again ready for use. A different system has been chosen for the group hutches. The group hutches are lifted and the straw remains. The group hutch and the square are then cleaned and can be put back to house the new calves.
The group hutch is equipped with electricity and water, and there is a water trough in the hutch so that the calves can always drink and there is LED lighting for the dark months. In addition, the pen is equipped with a feed fence with a trough to feed the calves. In the front of the group pen there is a slatted floor, to keep the most frequently walked upon area dry.
The entire concept falls under a European subsidy programme, the POP3 rural development programme. The programme is dedicated to making the agricultural sector more sustainable and innovative.