In this blog, we look at the different cattle housing solutions available for both beef farmers and organic beef farmers.

Cattle Shed design:

It is very important to make sure all animals have adequate lying space to ensure a good thrive and reduce the risk of spreading disease.  Suckler cows on slats require a lying space of 2.5 m² toCattle Housing 3 m², cattle over 275kg on slats require 2 to 2.5m2 while smaller cattle require 1.2-1.5m2. Below is a large cattle shed we design for this customer’s requirements. 24 pens with enough feeding space and room for cattle numbers along with a calving area.


Preparing Housing:

Ensure all sheds are power washed and disinfected before housing cattle in them to prevent the spread of disease. Examine all barriers, gates and water troughs to be certain that they are all in good working condition and carry out any necessary repairs before housing cattle. Water is vital for your animals, both for their health and for their performance. Good quality should be given to them in sufficient quantities freely throughout the day. Drinkers should be emptied as dirty standing water can carry potentially toxic or harmful bacteria and parasites that can make your animals very sick, it is also 100 times more corrosive to the trough. You also should ensure that the building will be fully compliant with the requirements for storage of slurry, effluents, etc.

beef cattle housing

Treatments & Health:

Housing is also the ideal time to treat cattle for parasites. The main parasites that need to be targeted are lungworms, stomach worms and liver fluke along with external parasites such as biting and sucking lice and mites. In this shed we have a 360-degree handling system, cattle flow out one end into a holding pen, run down the crush and back into the shed at the far end ensuring complete safety for both livestock and the farmer.

Body Condition Scoring:

It is important that both suckler and dairy cows are body-condition scored (BCS) at housing time to ensure that cows will be in the correct condition at calving. The ideal BCS for a suckler cow at housing is 3.0 – 3.5. When body condition is scored, cows can then be grouped together and then fed accordingly. It is important that cows are conditioned correctly over the winter as over-fat cows have increased calving difficulty because fat is deposited in the pelvic area, thereby reducing the size of the pelvic canal. Very thin cows also have increased calving problems (and increased calf mortality) due to insufficient strength to withstand the birth process and giving birth to weak, non-vigorous calves. The EZI 7i can be a handle tool to monitor weight gain and to sure cattle are at the optimum condition.

EZI 7i Cattle Weighing Package 

cattle weighing scales

Housing Options:

It is important to ensure that, whatever housing system is provided, behavioural needs (e.g. resting, feeding and drinking) are properly met. In loose housing systems, the freedom of movement of the animals means that both individual and group behaviours must be satisfied.  Cattle spend about 50 % of their time lying, for about 10-15 periods per day, each of about 60-80 minutes in duration. Talk to our team to design the solution that meets both your needs and your cattle. In the video below we design this shed with a special calving unit for caesarean sections for difficult calvings. This farmer has high-value stock and this breed can sometimes have difficulties when giving birth.

Organic beef farms:

Lie-back areas are a crucial part of winter housing for Irish organic beef systems, according to Teagasc’s Elaine Leavy. In organic systems, the lie-back area of the shed must account for at least 50% of the total shed area, she said. The other half of which can be made up of any other type of housing, including slats or cubicles. Straw bedding is to be used in the Lie-back area. The straw used in organic beef farming is not only beneficial to animal welfare but becomes a valuable fertiliser when recycled as dung. Chopping straw can be beneficial to its breakdown in the field once spread, although this is by no means a necessary step in the process. According to Teagasc, the biggest issue when converting to Organics will be converting housing to meet the organic standards. Here is a video from Teagasc discussing Organics.


The total shed space allocated to each animal is more generous in organic farming than in normal systems, meaning sheds need to be expanded or stocking rates reduced. According to Teagasc, organic farmers must allow 1m2 per 100kg live weight, within these regulations the minimum area is 1.5m2 for calves. When calculating the spacial requirements, it says, many farmers use a combination of a bedded lying area and a slatted feed face, which may offer the best solution at the farm level. We are here to help if you have any questions as we offer a range of standard products and customs which come more into play converting older sheds to meet standards as sizes can be off standard.

Space allocations on organic farms

Source: Teagasc

Source: Teagasc


Here we have a new beef calving setup in a fully restored build from 1847 under the Glas Scheme. The build was originally built as a milking parlour in 1847 but has been used as a storage shed in recent years. This farm is being covered into an organic system and the farmer wanted to make use of the current building in the yard. We fitted 3 calving pens all with head-locking barriers and a small access gate. The first pen, as you come in the door is also designed to hold bulls with our ultra-safe head locking barrier with the added safety of a fully-hinged headlock allowing for large heads.


We have over 40 years of experience in the market and we are confident we have the solutions to make your farm work for you. Contact us with any questions. Custom or standard we have the solution for you.

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Other good articles on winter housing:

Teagasc – Getting Ready for Winter Housing

Winter accommodation for beef animals by Tom Ryan and JJ Lenehan Teagasc

Let’s Talk Organics – Converting beef housing to meet organic standards