calf pens made out of PVC pipe

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Jul 27, 2004
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Hi all,

My husband and I raise Holstein replacement heifers. We are currently about to build a new facility and are trying to come up with a plan for the calf pens. Our vet thought PVC pipe might work someway. We are very particular about being clean. We were going to do metal, but that will just rust so we are trying to come up with something different.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

I would go with pipe pens. I don't think a PVC pen would be strong enough to hold most animals. If you don't like rusted pipe, use some type of rust cure product to clean the pipe and then paint it. That will make a very nice looking set of pens.
If you are somewhere that it gets very cold (stays below freezing for a long period) PVC will shatter if something hits it. Some people we know make their fences with used/leaky Aluminum irrigation pipe or old aluminum guard rails.
Avoid PVC pipe for cattle pens/management like the plague! Even "Schedule 40 or Schedule 80" PVC is not strong enough to hold cattle. PVC pipe also becomes brittle in very cold weather...breaks easily.

If you are looking for a "pretty" fence.... Use pipe (used or new well pipe in 2-3/8" or 2-7/8") and treat it with an acid wash first. Then, paint it with an oil-based primer (such as red oxide, or gray primer). Then, paint it with your favorite color of oil-based paint. Lots of work, but ends up pretty. Note: even non-painted pipe fencing will last many years without painting...rusting is more aesthetic than damaging.

Use the "well pipe" for posts and top & bottom rail. Then, use well sucker rod spaced every 6 to 9" between the pipe rails. Alternate: use the 4 x 4" or 2 x 4" "cattle panel" welded wire panels (#6 guage wire) attached to the pipe. Of course, you or someone else will have to do all this welding. Result: quality fence, peace of mind, keeps cattle in.
One dairy uses plastic pallet things but they were there when he bough the farm so doesn't have any idea where to get them. Most places either use a hutch and tie the calf with a piece of baling twine as a collar and lead attached to the hutch. Others use "cattle panels". They are 16 foot long and galvanized. Light weight ones don't hold up very well to rambunctious calves. Heavy weights are made form 1/4 inch wire and hold up well to even mature cattle. The can be welded if you are of a mind to, but I just use a dog snap at the corners. Most times just two of them, very really active calves we use 3, top middle and bottom.

Does anyone have any pics of bottle calf pens or home made huts. I am raising bottle calves with nurse cows. First batch did great then this batch has been a nightmare. Lost 4 out of 8 in a matter of 2 weeks. Think I brought in one that may had ecoli or samonala. I have limed and bleached my barn but I think I need to not use the barn at all for a while. Anybody ever had to work with this much?
How about polyethylene pipe (aka oil field pipe)? I have a couple bale rings made out of this and haven't broke one yet.

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