- Housing Systems



Only its incorporation into a well-thought-out housing system turns the Igloo into an ideal place for your calf-rearing operation. One example of an Igloo permanently set into a full housing concept is the so-called Igloo System. It has proven itself around the world, in particular in medium-scale and large-scale operations.

Have a Roof Over the Head

It is especially important to cover the feeding and exercise areas with a roof. This way, the calves are protected from rain as well as excessive sunlight and can do as they please without any worries about the weather. Large overhangs keep the bedding dry, even in windy and rainy conditions, and provide an enjoyable work environment.

Gain Flexibility by Modular Extension

The Igloo System is composed of different modules that allow fl exible extension at any time. This is how it enables you to build housings of any size, up to 200 calves, which makes it the ideal choice for farms that intend to grow.

The modules include the Igloo Module (Basic or Extension Module) and the Straw Storage Module. This latter module allows both dry storage of the bedding material and short walking distances when re-bedding. Ideally, this is also where you will place the H&L 100 Automatic Calf Feeder.

With the modular set-up, the farmers' specifi c demands, various capacities, and the situation on site can be taken into account to the highest possible extent.

The roofing we recommend is a trapeze-profi le metal sheet with a one-sided plastic coating, supported by wooden posts set up according to a 5 x 5 m (16' x 16') grid.

Define Three Areas in the Calf Pen

The raised feeding area should be a continuous solid surface and have a 5% slope. This ensures that it remains dry and can be easily cleaned. The feeding area is also the area in which the calves are kept while mucking out. The bedded exercise and resting area is the area in which the calves remain most of the time. Its 25 sq. metres (269 sq.ft) result in lots of space the calves can use to frolic, but also to take a rest in the fresh air. The shelter space inside the Igloo has its own micro-climate and is the place where the calves will find protection against strong winds or heavy draughts.

Enjoy Flexibility of Feeding Place Design

The H&L Igloo System is ideally suited for the integration of a H&L 100 Automatic Calf Feeder. Depending on the desired feeding programme, you choose between stainless steel troughs, diagonal fences or the dedicated H&L Feed Fence for Calves.

Optimise Bedding and Mucking out

Depending on the number of calves, new bedding should be spread in the Igloos about two or three times a week and they should be mucked out approximately every two weeks. They are supplied with a solid transport hook that allows easy lifting and moving with a front loader. When mucking out is finished, the Igloo is simply re-attached to the fencing with a chain. Adjust the height of the roof to the dimensions of the tractor you use for mucking out.

Draught-free Micro-climate for Optimum Protection of Your Calves

When issues arise in the calf barn, they are often due to poor ventilation. Frequent respiratory disorders clearly indicate a poor micro-climate in the barn. It is rewarding, though, to look at mother nature and allow her to work for you. To learn how the H&L Igloo makes this possible, read on!

Offer Your Calves Shelter
  • Draughts in their resting area affect your calves and cause diseases. That is a well-known fact. On the other hand, a high airflow rate has to be ensured in traditional calf housing facilities to replace stale and bacteria-contaminated air.
  • In particular, calves that are only a few weeks old are unable to compensate this undesired effect with an increased body temperature.
  • With a H&L Igloo, you offer up to 15 calves a draughtfree, yet well-ventilated shelter.
Set up a Unique Ventilation System
  • The hemispherical shape of the Igloo creates a specific ventilation effect: wind that hits the outside of the Igloo will result in negative pressure at the top of the dome (Bernoulli's Principle). As the ventilation shafts are placed exactly at the spot where this happens, stale air will be positively exhausted from the Igloo.
  • Additionally, this effect is helped by the thermal behaviour of air that should be exhausted, which is warmer and rises to the top of the dome. Therefore, no draughts will form in the calves' resting area.
  • Ventilation inside the Igloo is enhanced further by the stack effect (height difference between air intake and air output).
  • Fresh air is supplied to the Igloo through the entrance. The fact that this opening is 12 times as large as the exhaust ventilation shafts, will result in the desired low air velocity in the calves' resting area.
Never Make it Too Warm—and Never Too Cold
  • A specifically engineered coating of the Igloo results in maximum reflection of solar energy. For this reason, the temperature does not rise excessively inside the Igloo and it offers the calves a cool spot to relax, even on a hot summer day.
  • At the very minimum, the temperature inside the Igloo is always substantially lower, even when fully exposed to the sun, than it is in the direct sunlight.
  • Also, the winter temperature inside the Igloo does not differ much from the ambient temperature, so animals will not begin sweating, which could lead to considerable problems.
  • Overall, the calves' organism and, especially, their coat adjust to the low temperatures and they develop outstandingly. Please read the suggestions for winter management provided in our daily operation tips for housing.
Lots of Space for Healthy and Active Calves

How much space does a happy calf need? Not only animal welfare activists are concerned with this issue, but everyone interested in calf rearing. In particular for the youngest stock in the operation, 'Less is more' is not always the appropriate motto. Here is why!

Offer Your Calves Great Variety
  • Practical experience has demonstrated that it is a good choice to establish a resting, an activity, and a feeding area in the calf pen. This way, resting calves are not disturbed by active calves playing or running around.
  • In most cases, the feeding and drinking area is the one with the highest calf traffic rate, which makes it the dirtiest and dampest one too. Therefore, there should be enough space to avoid the calves' being required to lie down in this area of the pen.
Let the Calf Decide on Its Own
  • The calf decides which area it prefers to be in. Offer it two resting areas to choose from:
    • one inside the Igloo, in the protected micro-climate;
    • one as a roofed resting and exercise area in front of the Igloo.
  • You will recognise that the preferred resting areas are very different between calves, depending on the weather and their age. Their preferences may change within a couple of hours. The frequent variations are also an indicator that lets you know that in controlled-atmosphere housing, which could be an option, the operator tends to switch too late to the conditions the calves now prefer, and often is wrong at guessing what they like.
Be Very Animal-friendly, Offer Lots of Space
  • Pursuant to European directives for animal protection, a calf, depending on its age, must be allowed 1.5 to 1.8 sq. metres (16¼ to 19½ sq.ft) of space.
  • This required space minimum is too small when you want to offer three areas (see above) for resting and being active. We recommend that you provide 2 to 2.5 sq. metres (21½ to 27 sq.ft) per calf. With an Igloo, this space requirement in most cases is not a problem either because the cost of its construction is low.
Provide Lots of Good Bedding for Maximum Health
  • Good, fresh bedding lowers humidity, decreases bacteria development, and, as a consequence, the ammonia content in the air associated with rotting straw.
  • Furthermore, fresh bedding covers spots of manure as a surface protection, which reduces the calves' exposure to bacteria and decreases the risk of disease.
  • Finally, calves that eat the straw used as bedding can hardly be avoided, even when enough high-quality forage is available for them to eat. Therefore, the bedding has to be 'feed grade,' of excellent quality.

Work Facilitated

As early as when you are building your barn, you decide how you will work in it over the coming years (or decades). Also, in a calf barn there are not only the calves' needs to be respected, but the workers' needs as well. Both do not necessarily conflict. To learn how, read on!

Feed Efficiently
  • The best part of the time spent in the calf barn is used for feeding. This considered, the feeding place design has to allow forage to be taken there quickly or milk diet to be fed without consuming too much time.
  • Furthermore, it is critical that the feeding places are easy to clean and do not raise sanitation concerns. In particular, smooth surfaces are important for calves. In this respect, stainless steel fixtures are appropriate to a very high extent.
  • Also, it has to be possible to optimally integrate any feeding technology (H&L 100 Calf Feeder or Milk Taxi). Many ways of how to integrate them can be appropriately developed, as can be seen from the examples of everyday practice.
Spread Bedding Fast
  • Only when bedding can be done fast, will it be done often enough.
  • Therefore, consider a protected bedding storage area in your Igloo design when you sketch out the first plans. Make distances short and establish the bedding storage space close to the Igloo.
Muck out Regularly and Easily
  • Rotting straw in the calves' resting area leads to the release of ammonia. On top of that, flies heavily affect your calves in the summer. By mucking out the Igloo and the exercise area every 2 to 3 weeks, you will disrupt the larval development of the flies and rid the manure at a time before straw begins to rot.
  • All these reasons make it important that mucking out can be performed easily and quickly. This is something that close attention was paid to with the Igloo housing design. The Igloo itself can be lifted and easily moved to a new location with a front loader.
  • In an Igloo System, the design of the pen is one where the calves can be locked up in one area while the manure is simply being scraped out of the area that will receive new bedding.
  • With the Igloo Veranda, the exercise area, containing the calves, is moved to a new location while the location where it used to be can be easily scraped.

Low Cost of Construction and Maximum Flexibility

However much you love your animals and co-workers, when it comes to building a barn, you look at price. Differences between cost structures can be tremendous, and depreciation costs put a long-term strain on the operational result. This page will show you, evidence in hand, that an Igloo housing design is not only animal-friendly, but also unrivalled value for money.

Build an Outdoor Structure at Low Expense
  • Igloo housing designs are very open. We recommend considering an Igloo as a protected micro-climatic shelter offered to the calves, rather than going for a complex barn design with ventilation systems.
  • In this manner, an Igloo housing design is up to 40% less costly than a traditional calf barn with wind curtains or positive ventilation through airflow ducts.
Solve Problems Flexibly
  • The H&L Igloo is not only at home in H&L's housing systems (Igloo System or Igloo Veranda), but also in other barn designs, e.g. when an existing building is redesigned. Frequently, a more open construction is needed to increase airflow rates. In these retrofitting situations, an Igloo is the structure that provides a micro-climate.
  • This is also a way to find a viable solution to situations that raise concerns without requiring costly reconstruction.
  • The roof, for instance, can be used as a shelter for machinery, storage area for straw, and so on.
  • The orientation of the roof is not critical for a calf housing facility. It can therefore be used as the ideal support for a photovoltaic system.
Set It up Quickly
  • It takes two persons 30 minutes to set up an Igloo, due to precision-matched, pre-drilled segments, high-quality manufacture, and easy-to-understand instructions.
  • An Igloo Veranda does not require more than three persons and a couple of hours. This is due to a special installation kit and an easy-to-read instruction manual
  • Even larger Igloo Systems can be quickly set up in a doit- yourself approach. We will gladly provide advice and design sketches.
  • The very short period of construction also means that the barn is ready to use in no time, which brings a quick return on the investment.

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