Source: National Farm Animal Care Council Code of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals – Dairy Cattle, Section 1.4
Stall design is a very important factor in cow comfort that translates to more and better quality milk, healthier cows and fewer animal welfare concerns. Cows spend more than half of their time lying down, and get up and down frequently. Uncomfortable stalls result in less frequent or shorter duration resting periods. Injuries are associated with standing on concrete surfaces. Cows forced to stand for prolonged periods because of uncomfortable or too few stalls have reduced dry matter intake (DMI) and, as a result, lower milk production.
The dimensions and design of free stalls will differ depending on type of barn, configuration of the barn and where the stall is located (see Appendix C – Flowchart for Evaluating Free Stalls). A growing body of research has now demonstrated that the surface we provide for cows is one of the most important factors in designing a suitable lying area (11).
Build stalls to minimize hock and knee injuries and to allow cows to rise and lie down with ease.
RECOMMENDED BEST PRACTICES
- build stalls that provide adequate room for cows to lay comfortably for at least 12 hours per day
- ensure stalls are designed to minimize hock and knee injuries and allow cows to rise and lie down with ease (e.g., width and length, lunge space, brisket board location, neck rail height and location, length of chain). Refer to Appendix C – Flowchart for Evaluating Free Stalls and Appendix D – Flowchart for Evaluating Tie Stalls
- provide a comfortable resting surface in stalls (e.g., sand, deep bedding, mattresses with bedding) (11)
- ensure stalls are clean and dry.