Calving Under Roof: How to Expand your Cow-Calf Operation Without Purchasing More Pasture

Expanding your cow/calf herd doesn’t have to mean purchasing more pasture

Aaron and Laura Cunningham of SkyView Farms knew they were ready to invest in a building to house their cow/calf herd during calving season. Because they were already practiced in calving under roof, they were looking for a building that was able to be retrofitted to specific needs and upgrades that would fit seamlessly into their existing operation.
The Cunninghams worked with their Accu-Steel dealer, Kelly Daniels of Hedgewood Equipment, to make sure they got exactly what they were hoping for. The Cunninghams invested in an Integrity Cattle building, but they didn’t stop there. Laura said “When we purchased the barn we realized we had some more decisions to make. We decided to invest in the gating because we wanted this to be a safe place that all our family could work in whether they’re 35 years old or 60. The other investment we made was calving cameras- they’ve saved us on hard-to-predict calving scenarios that happen in every herd. They are 4k cameras that zoom in with night vision–I can see a cow contracting without disturbing her. It’s awesome to be able to help with the calving process without disturbing them too much.”

Calving improvements

When asked about improvements they’ve seen in calf health since calving under their Accu-Steel building, SkyView Beef stated that “Weaning weights are about 80 pounds heavier than they were before. We can attribute that to the calves getting the best start they can in our building before going out to pasture-we don’t have to fight mud and rain and changes in temperatures. A great, healthy, dry start encourages calves to start growing and nursing right away”.

Labor and Time Savings

They spoke in depth about the time and labor savings they’ve seen since calving under roof in Northern Iowa. Aaron Cunningham mentioned “With this setup, we’ve got all of the feed and water out of the bedpack. We can scrape manure quickly to keep things clean and the bedpack stays cleaner and drier longer. This is all on a schedule. When you’re calving outside, your schedule is up to the weather. Inside, we know we’re going to be working every 3-4 days. We can be much more consistent and efficient.”

Advice for Those Interested

For people considering purchasing a similar building, the Cunninghams offered some advice. “Visit a barn, that helped us the most. Talk to people that manage those barns and ask them, ‘what would you change?’. As you tour barns like this, think about how it would fit into your farm and your structure. Think about things you want to make sure you do. There are lots of scenarios you might not think about until you think about how it’ll work in your farming operation.

Advice from a dealer

Dealer Kelly Daniels also offered up some advice. “It all starts with giving us a call so we can start discussing what your goals are. We can start with some draft layouts so you can decide where concrete will go, fountains, gates, etc, and make sure it’ll flow with how you want to run your operation. Then we can go look at buildings; we can send pictures and drawings to make sure your building is exactly the way you want it. We want to make sure it’s the way you like it from the start.”

To get started on a cattle building for your operation, visit accusteel.com or give us a call at 1-877-895-7298.




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