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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 131-138 in Fifth International Dairy Housing Proceedings of the 29-31 January 2003 Conference (Fort Worth, Texas USA)  701P0203.(doi:10.13031/2013.11613)
Authors:   D.F. McFarland
Keywords:   Dairy housing, dairy shelters, freestalls, cubicles, stall design, dairy design

Freestalls, or cubicles, have been used in dairy shelters as a resting area for nearly four decades. Early designs focused on reducing building area and bedding use, later designs required minimal maintenance, but weren’t very comfortable. During the most recent decade dairy producers have demanded freestall designs that provide their cows a comfortable resting space, promote cleanliness, and minimize injury.

The components of a freestall work together to convince cows to enter, and provide a comfortable resting experience to assure their return and continued use. Important elements of freestalls include proper dimensions, the stall structure, stall bed, bedding, and management. Even after several years of study, observation, and discussion there seems to be no consensus as to the best combination of these elements to provide the ideal resting surface for dairy cows.

Ultimately cows, by acceptance or refusal, will determine the success of a freestall design, installation, and management. The designer, installer, and caretaker should be aware of normal bovine behavior, the primary purpose of each freestall component, and how each of these features affects use and/or resting position.

This paper will investigate modifications applied to new and existing freestall installations to improve stall acceptance, cow comfort, and stall cleanliness based on the author’s observations and experience working with Pennsylvania dairy producers to improve resting area use and management in freestall shelters.

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