Tour Highlights Benefits of Calving Under Roof

02-27-2013 in Cattle

By: Bethany Pint, Iowa Farm Bureau

Posted with permission of the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman

Calving under roof instead of outside on a dirt lot is a whole lot better for Justin Graves and his livestock.

The Grundy County Farm Bureau member hosted more than 250 farmers on his Grundy Center farm last week as part of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers’ (CSIF) calving under roof event.

The event was also sponsored by Hoop Beef System LLC and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

The event included a visit to Cody and Allen Bown’s farm in Reinbeck with a new 48-foot-by-320-foot hoop structure used in their cow/calf operation.

Graves said cow/calf comfort was the major factor in his decision to purchase a 40-foot-by-320-foot hoop structure for his farm. It’s also easier to manage his 120 head of cattle, he said.

“This (hoop structure) is a heck of a lot easier than dragging a cow out of the mud,” he said.

He said feed efficiency has improved since adding the structure in 2010 because the cattle burn less feed energy by walking to the bunk housed inside instead of walking through the mud and to a bunk.

And Graves said the hoop operation takes weather out of the equation. “I haven’t had to scoop the bunks out,” he said.

Tim Bickett, a system consultant with Hoop Beef LLC, said fewer than 3 percent of cattle operations in the United States have a calving facility under roof. And since cattle producers in the United States lose more than $5 billion per year to weather-related losses, a roofed structure could be the key to increased productivity and efficiency in a cow/calf operation.

“Seventy-five percent of death loss of calves delivered happens in the first week of life,” Bickett said. “On average, 8 to 10 percent of calves delivered will die before weaning.”

He said the main cause of death is related to weather since most producers don’t have a roofed structure dedicated to calving. “Weather is not an issue for Hoop Beef System customers because calves stay dry,” Bickett said.

He said calving under roof makes it less difficult for cattle producers to manage and observe the health of their cow/calf pairs, too.

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