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Performance and Health of Group-Housed Calves Kept in Igloo Calf Hutches and Calf Barn
Jerzy Wójcik*, Renata Pilarczyk, Anna Bilska, Ottfried Weiher1 and Peter Sanftleben1
Department of Ruminant Science, West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin, Poland; 1Institute of Animal Production, State Research Institute for Agriculture and Fishery, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,  Germany
*Corresponding author:


Group-reared calves are usually housed in common buildings, such as calf barns of all sorts; however, there are concerns about this practice due to problems such as an increased incidence of diseases and poor performance of the calves. Group calf rearing using igloo hutches may be a solution combining the benefits of individual and group housing systems. The aim of this study was to evaluate group-reared calves housed in igloo-type hutches compared with those housed in common calf barns. The experiment was carried out on a large private dairy farm located in Vorpommern, Germany. A total of 90 Deutsche-Holstein bull calves were assigned to 2 treatment groups: the calf-barn group, with calves grouped in pens in a building, and the igloo-hutch group, with calves housed in outdoor enclosures with an access to group igloo-style hutches. Calves entering the 84-day experiment were at an average age of about three weeks, with the mean initial body weight of about 50 kg. The calves housed in the group igloo hutches attained higher daily weight gains compared to those housed in the calf barn (973 vs 721 g/day), consumed more solid feeds (concentrate, corn grain and maize silage): (1.79 vs 1.59 kg/day), and less milk replacer (5.51 vs 6.19 kg/day), had also a lower incidence of respiratory diseases (1.24 vs 3.57%) with a shorter persistence of the illness.

Key words: Body weight gains; Calves; Feed intake; Group rearing; Health


ISSN 0253-8318 (Print)
ISSN 2074-7764 (Online)