Driven Design: A Suckler Shed in County Cavan

A newly designed suckler shed in the Killashandra area of County Cavan prioritises comfort and convenience. The four-bay shed incorporates various features to create a safe environment for handling cattle and streamline daily tasks such as dosing and veterinary procedures. The integration of silent Headlocks and access arches enables easy and uninterrupted movement between pens, ensuring a smooth and calm flow of animals during handling.

One of the farmer’s primary goals was to reduce stress and enhance time management while working with the cattle. To achieve this, each pen now includes a creep area at the back, featuring a Jourdain calf creep gate and a separate spring latch gate. This design allows convenient access to the crush and handling facility from all pens without having to exit the shed. Moreover, diagonal feed barriers at the back of three pens enable separate feeding of calves and their mothers, optimising the calves’ growth and allowing the farmer to closely monitor their health without risking injury from protective cows. The farmer appreciates the flexibility this design offers, especially when treating sick animals, as it allows easier access through the creep pens.

The shed provides access from opposite sides of the shed, with one end featuring a feeding passage accessible for machinery and the other end having a narrower passage leading to the crush handling facility. The layout of the shed was carefully designed to prioritise ventilation and control respiratory diseases and illness among the cattle. By situating the crush along one side of the shed, which connects to the back creep area and all the front pens, the movement of cattle is minimised, reducing complications and challenges associated with the process. This layout is particularly beneficial for the farmer’s part-time farming practices, where tasks need to be completed efficiently within limited timeframes.

The first creep area incorporates a Jourdain EX5 calving and operation gate, providing a quick and safe method for restraining cows during calving. This reduces stress for both the farmer and the animal and improves efficiency during calving, including situations where a Caesarean section is required. Additionally, the calving gate proves advantageous when a cow refuses to let a calf suckle and plays a crucial role in establishing a strong bond that contributes to the calf’s overall performance.

To ensure the well-being of the cattle, slat rubber has been installed in the slatted area, providing better traction and preventing injuries. This rubber flooring also offers insulation, conserving energy and enabling the animals to perform at a higher standard. Comfort was a significant concern for the farmer, and the addition of slat rubber greatly improved the welfare standards on the farm.

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