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Combined Stall Systems for Heifers in Groups – a new Concept

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

Citation:  2012 IX International Livestock Environment Symposium (ILES IX)  ILES12-0335.(doi:10.13031/2013.41622)
Authors:   Knut Egil Bøe, Gry Færevik
Keywords:   Heifers, housing, combined stalls

Traditionally heifers have been kept in fully slatted floor pens in Scandinavia. However, current Animal Welfare Regulation requires that heifers should have access to a lying area with solid floor. In order to reduce space requirements, a combined lying/feeding stall was developed. These combined stalls are wider and shorter than standard free stalls, and each stall provides sufficient space for two animals to feed or lying space for one animal. This study was carried out in two commercial dairy herds where the heifers were kept in groups of ten in pens with six standard free stalls in the rear of the pen and five combined stalls at the feed bunk. In experimental period 1 four of the ten animals in each group were removed in half of the pens (then all animals could rest in the standard free stalls). Then, in experimental period 2, the removed animals returned to the home pen and four animals from each group in the other half of the pens were removed. Time spent lying, feeding and standing/walking was not affected by number of animals in the pen (6 or 10). The heifers in both herds showed a clear preference for lying in the standard free stalls and increasing the number of animals from six to ten did not change this preference. The cleanliness was generally better in the free stalls than in the combined stalls. We conclude that combined stalls for heifers seem to function quit well, especially for the older/larger heifers.

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