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

Citation:  Pp. 139-146 in Fifth International Dairy Housing Proceedings of the 29-31 January 2003 Conference (Fort Worth, Texas USA)  701P0203.(doi:10.13031/2013.11614)
Authors:   M. A. Gaworski, C. B. Tucker, D. M. Weary and M. L. Swift
Keywords:   Cow comfort, animal well-being, behaviour, stall cleanliness, cubicle

There are many alternative options available for housing lactating dairy cattle, but little research to show which ones work best for either the producer or the cows. We describe a study comparing two free-stall designs in a cross-over experiment using 48 lactating Holstein cows. One stall design followed standard dairy industry recommendations for size and bedding depth (110 cm wide, 112.5 cm neck rail, > 10 cm sand). The other design was wider (117.5 cm), had a higher neck rail (125 cm) and also differed in the base and depth of bedding (4-5 cm of sand covering a geotextile mattress). Cows were housed in 4 pens (2 of each design), with 12 stalls in each pen. Cow behaviour and stall cleanliness was followed for 4 weeks in each condition. Cows spent 70 % more time standing with all four feet in the stall when they had access to the larger stalls, but there was no difference in average lying time between the 2 stall types. Stall use also varied in relation to stall location within the pen. The stalls in the row closest to the feed alley were occupied on average 68 ± 2 % of the day, compared to just 48 ± 2 % for stalls accessed from the alley away from the feeder. In addition, stalls on the periphery of each row were used 25 % less than centrally located stalls. Not surprisingly, those stalls that were most used were also most likely to become soiled with faeces. These results show that both stall location and stall design can affect stall usage and cleanliness, suggesting that certain barn designs may be much more effective than others.

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