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Hospital Pens: Does one size fit all?

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I am a big believer in not putting the Hospital and Fresh cows together. I also like having lame cows separated into their own pen if possible. The walking surface and manger should be different for these groups.

So, in answer to the question: No, one size does not fit all.

The other question that arises is, “How many animals should be in the Hospital?” The correct answer to this is: It depends. The average for dairies is 2.5% of the Herd. For feedlots, typically the target is 4% to 5%. The reason for mentioning the feedlot is because if you are raising young stock, my target would be about 4% of all the young stock.

Why so high?

I did a study once about isolating sick calves and treatments. The results showed that if you find one to two sick calves in a pen (the pen size was 21 head), and removed them, then the rest of the pen was okay. However, past that number you end up treating the entire pen.

Clearly isolating helps prevent disease.

The DHI-Plus mobile app from Amelicor does a nice job of showing you the numbers. Here are two examples of real herds.

Herd One


Herd Two


Obviously, these herds are different sizes.

The proper comparison is to use the Percent of the Herd in the Hospital and not the total Number in the Hospital.

I will use the total number… but only to go and look at the pen itself - to determine if it is sized correctly.

One last thought: The way the numbers are presented makes it nice to see if an outbreak is occurring.


Discover More About Health Events by Using DHI-Plus Herd Management Software: