VDK Agri: Trendsetter in Calf Housing for Almost Four Decades

Published on Thu, 01/30/2020 - 10:03am

 VDK Agri: Trendsetter in Calf Housing for Almost Four Decades

 By Steve Weisman

 For dairy producers all over the world, raising healthy, strong calves is an important part of the equation. For almost 40 years, VDK Agri (www.vdk-agri.com) with its headquarters in Moergestel, Netherlands, has been a trendsetter in the development, production and sale of housing for young calves focusing on ensuring the best care for these young animals and making farmers’ work easier.

VDK Agri provides dairy producers with the best products for high-quality calf rearing. Supported by a clear vision of calf housing needs, VDK Agri develops products that focus on hygiene, health and reducing labor by manufacturing housing that enables calves to grow quickly and healthily into the best dairy cows for the future, driven by the VDK Agri slogan: Happy Calf, Happy Farmer!

VDK Agri is by far the European market leader in calf housing with over 500,000 sold throughout the world. Always on the cutting edge, VDK Agri responds quickly to new developments in the market by maintaining close, regular contact with livestock farmers, feed suppliers, researchers, and vet. As a result, VDK Agri continually develops ever-improving, user-friendly systems that help farmers to rear calves as effectively as possible and at the lowest possible cost.

A calf’s immune system develops during the rearing process and having the right calf hutches on your farm can make a real difference. The VDK Agri calf hutches are made from smooth material and are easy to clean. Research has also shown that VDK Agri igloos are the most hygienic calf housing if the right cleaning agents and techniques are used. Farms must have enough single-calf igloos to house all newborn calves aged zero to three weeks. Outdoor calf housing in igloos ensures that the calves develop a good resistance and a strong immune system. After the first three critical weeks, the calves can be kept in group housing.

VDK Agri products
• Single-calf housing - VDK Agri single-calf housing has been specially designed for rearing calves outdoors. The calf igloos provide an ideal environment for the first weeks of a newborn calf’s life: they are sturdy, easy to use, easy to clean and feature a special coating that keeps them cool in high temperatures. Different products for indoor housing are also available.

• Hybrid-calf housing - In order to further optimize calf rearing, the VDK Agri Hybrid was developed – a unique new housing concept in which calves can be housed both individually and in small groups ‘outdoors.’ This allows calves to be kept in the same calf hutch from day one to three months of age.

• Group housing – Often times a regression occurs in calves that are moved from single calf hutches to group housing in a regular cowshed. VDK Agri group housing provides a solution to this, as it allows the calves to remain outside in the fresh air until they are around three months old. Infection rates are much lower outside than in the youngstock shed. Several group housing options include patented fencing options that includes an easy fastening and unfastening system.

• Open Top Series – This rearing system can be used for both indoor and outdoor use. This is an incredibly practical and flexible system for farmers who want to rear their calves inside or under the overhang. This system can come as a frame system or frameless system. The calf box with a frame (with swivel castors for ease of moving or cleaning) offers greater flexibility and even better mobility.

The process
Based on the very latest knowledge and insights, VDK Agri is constantly developing top-quality products that livestock farmers all over the world enjoy using every day. In addition to focusing on animal health, hygiene and ease of use, VDK Agri naturally pays a great deal of attention to the quality, durability and sustainability of its products.

Fibreglass-reinforced, UV-resistant polyester has a number of properties that make it particularly suitable for manufacturing VDK Agri systems. The material is extremely strong, durable, and reflects sunlight. This means that VDK Agri keeps calves cool – even in hot temperatures! In addition, the vents in the box guarantee correct air flow. The smooth, rock-hard top layer also prevents the formation of hairline and other cracks. The box eliminates the formation of bacteria and with a smooth inside layer with no ribs or corners, the hutches are very easy to clean
Meanwhile, the design of the VDK Agri fences are so smart that they are patented (EP 1.138.196). Simply use the front fence to close the calf in the pen. The fencing can then be folded over the box, so that you can remove the straw. The practical design – complete with castors – means the fenced box can be moved as a single unit and cleaned elsewhere. The fences are designed with specific focus on ergonomic design with the farmer in mind.

Coming to North America
With 40 years of success mostly in Europe, but also in Africa and Asia, VDK Agri is now making the move to North America. Arjan Harbers, head of sales welcomes the move to North America. “We would like to bring our success in Europe into the North American market.”

To do so, Doug Gamble, who has been involved in the dairy industry for over 30 years, has been named the North American Sales Manager. “I have been involved in agriculture for most of my life, from being on the family farm as a small child, a milker/herdsman throughout my high school years, agricultural college as a young adult, then a fulfilling career in agricultural machinery sales.

Gamble relishes the challenge and the opportunity to introduce North American dairy producers to the finest calf rearing system in the world. “I look forward to meeting with producers who want to grow their business, raise healthy calves, cut expenses and build a fantastic business relationship with VDK Agri and me.”

Gamble notes that he will be attending 14 trade shows throughout the United States and Canada over the next 10 months to meet with producers and share what VDK Agri can do for their calves. “We do have a warehouse in Canada, and within the next 12 months, we want to have a warehouse in the United States to ship product out on a daily basis. Gamble can be reached via phone at (506) 536-7274 or via email at dgamble@vdk-agri.com.

So, if you need to add calving units or want to replace your old ones, check out the VDK Agri website, or google VDK Agri YouTube videos to see them in action.  Remember: Happy Calf, Happy Farmer! You won’t be disappointed!