More growth and health in outdoor housing

30 April 2020

Thorough calf rearing is essential for good performance as a dairy cow. With a high feeding regime and an all-in, all-out housing in small, fixed groups, calves perform best. For example, research by Dairy Campus/WUR with 224 breeding calves in four different rounds. CalfOTel's outdoor housing in group hutches came out well in this investigation. The calves grew significantly faster and less antibiotics were needed. All-in, all-out with small, fixed groups seem to be an important key to success.

The research

Dairy Campus (part of Wageningen University & Research) conducted research from 2016 to 2018 into the development of an innovative calf rearing concept: Innocalf. This study examined the contrast between alternative and regular calf rearing. Below we explain the difference:

  • Alternative calf rearing: the calves are housed outside in CalfOTel individual calf hutches for the first 10 days, then the calves are housed outside in CalfOTel group hutches for four all-in, all-out calves.
  • Regular calf rearing: the calves are housed outside in CalfOTel single calf hutches for the first 10 days and then transferred to indoor housing in groups of 10 on straw with an automatic calf feeder 

Excellent results

CalfOTel focuses on housing for calves during the first four months of life. In the trial we weighed at 9 and 18 weeks of age in relation to this period. Calves housed in CalfOTel group hutch turned out to be on average 3.1 kg and 8.5 kg heavier than the calves housed regularly at these times. It also turned out that on average, the calves in CalfOTel housing needed significantly fewer days of treatment with antibiotics than the calves in the regular housing (0.8 versus 2.79 treatment days).

That calves in the CalfOTel group hutches were somewhat dirtier than the calves in the regular group pens with straw can be explained by the fact that the calves in the CalfOTel hutches were housed on grids instead of straw. Housing the calf outdoors on grids may not look as attractive, but the animals perform significantly better for both growth and health.

Trial results up to 18 weeks

Pilot factor




Group shed


All-in, all-out



Weight at 9 weeks (kg)





Growth up to 9 weeks (gram/day)






Weight at 18 weeks (kg)





Growth up to 18 weeks (gram/day)










Number of days with antibiotics, total





Number of days with antibiotics, respiratory





Outdoor housing in small, fixed groups with all-in, all-out CalfOTel housing by VDK Products shows significantly better growth and health during the first 18 weeks than regular indoor housing in straw pens with a calf feeder. CalfOTel's all-in, all-out housing in small groups is ideal for optimal calf rearing.

Read more about the study here

Share this message

CalfOtel uses cookies

We use functional and analytical cookies to ensure that our website functions properly and to make our website more user-friendly. We also use tracking cookies for CalfOTel campaigns. Tracking cookies provide us with information so that we can show website visitors as much relevant information as possible. When you click on 'continue', you give us permission to place functional, analytical and tracking cookies.