Keeping calf sheds as clean as possible during the calving and rearing season is important, as it helps to reduce the level of sickness in calves.

Although exposing calves to a certain level of bacteria is important, too much will lead to calves becoming sick.

As the vast majority of spring-calving herds are now finished with calving and calves are either at grass or being sold off-farm, now is a good opportunity to get your sheds cleaned.

Calf sheds

It is important that the calf shed is not only cleaned out, but disinfected – although the cleaning out comes first.

After first-cut silage has been harvested is a good time to remove all the organic matter from the shed and begin the cleaning process.

Leaving straw bedding in the shed for an extended period of time will only increase the amount of bacteria present within the shed.

Steam cleaning is then the best way to remove as much bacteria and disease from the shed as possible.

If scour or another disease has been an issue on your farm this year, it is important to determine which form of scour/disease was present. You should then purchase a disinfectant that is known to work against this scour-causing bacteria.

By using a disinfectant that kills the scour-causing bacteria, the issue should hopefully be eliminated and not continue to cause problems next year.

Other areas and aspects

It is important that all areas of the calf shed are cleaned and disinfected properly; gates should be removed and thoroughly washed too.

Removing the gates and washing them in another area should also make it easier to clean the rest of the shed.

Ensure that all feeders are also cleaned, including the meal trough, hay racks and water troughs.

Furthermore, clean any steel, timber and concrete in the area where calves are housed to ensure that as little as possible disease-causing bacteria remains in the shed.

The shed doesn’t have to be done all at the one time; it can be cleaned and disinfected over a number of days or weeks.

But by doing it at this time of year it prevents build up of bacteria and saves time later in the year.