Cattle Housing and Needs

Dry pens and narrow chutes help caring for calves easier.Do you need to know about cattle housing? Keeping cattle on a small farm requires very little in the way of weather protection and housing. Even in extreme weather conditions cattle will manage outside through most of it.

The most popular method is to allow cattle an open-air pole barn or shelter. Should you choose to keep them in a barn or enclosed area, you’ll need to give them plenty of ventilation.

Well designed facilities have a primary mission of safety for both you and the animals, but a secondary mission of minimizing animal confusion and stress. Poorly designed facilities cause stress and poor performance — both of which can affect meat quality. The use of electric prods to move cattle is an outdated method that is not recommended as they also cause cattle unnecessary pain and stress.

Improper feed storage can also cause stress. Forages (hay, straw, or silage) and grains should be stored in a dark and dry area free of rats and mice as these animals cause multiple diseases. Wet hay is prone to growing mold but also loses feed value and palatability.

Proper storage and good feeders will reduce waste and prevent the spread of internal parasites. You can either buy a manufactured feeder or you can build them to suit your space and budget.

Clean, fresh water is always important. Water can be provided in self-watering buckets kept in the corner of pens, or by a water trough. Both of these items can be purchased affordably from a farm supply store. If you are short on funds but have enough time to clean and fill daily, you could use old barrels or a bathtub for a trough.

When you’re keeping more than a few head of cattle you’ll want to design your cattle housing or set up to make your chores easy and to minimize your costs. A standard setup might consist of a crush pen, a head clamp and a squeeze chute.

The crush pen is used during vaccinations, or administering medicine. The head clamp is used when assisting with a calf birth. Pens and squeeze chutes help to confine cattle for handling – i.e. when being driven to the crush pen or head clamp.

Cut down on chore time, especially in winter months, by building pens and fencing pasture, close to feed storage areas. All area for cattle should be well drained and not wet with ample drainage moving away from the feed storage.

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