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Treat calves year-round with this shelter

08/21/2013 @ 10:04am

Huck Schaap was recruited by his neighbor to build a calving hut for a 250-head operation. So he enlisted a third neighbor, and the three lifelong cattlemen from Minnesota collaborated on Schaap’s design.

“We worked in Jeff Lais’s nice warm shop over the winter months, and Roger brought over his welder,” Schaap recalls, referring to frequent All Around the Farm contributor Roger Johnson.

Before they created this unit, Lais had been using small (8x16-foot) monoslope huts.

“This works much better. Jeff says he really should have two more, in fact,” says Schaap.  

The shelter has been well used, Schaap reports; several calves were born in it this year.

Secure, yet portable

The skids the shelter sits on are 4×6-inch cultivator beams. There is 2³∕8-inch well pipe welded to the skids as framing for the rest of the structure. Bolted to the pipe are 2×6s used as purlines.

“It’s solid as a rock,” Schaap says. Despite its heavy weight, however, the calving hut is easy to transport. Since it sits on cultivator beams, “you can put a chain on it and pull it wherever you want with a skid loader or tractor loader,” he explains.

Because the frame is so solid, there is no concern about bending or warping, even when the shelter is dragged over uneven terrain.


Change up the gates

Across the front are three 8-foot sections. The two outside sections have solid doors that can be closed on windy days. Swung in, they perform the added function of corralling a calf for treatment.

The center section has horizontal sucker rods welded 1 inch apart across the top half to keep cows out.

Pieces of plywood bolted to the metal frame are there to protect calves from the cold. They can be removed to foster better ventilation when temperatures are hot.

Schaap says the only materials he had to purchase were new tin for the roof and the sides, and the insulation they put in the ceiling. Everything else was salvaged. That insulation, he reports, keeps the ceiling from dripping.

“We used the double bubble-type rolled insulation; the kind they use under metal roofs,” he explains.

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