IRL UK: INT

Guidelines for Dairy Housing Design

Width of EASYFIX Cubicles

The optimum width for EASYFIX cubicles is 3foot 9 inc/1.15 meters. This width will allow cows the optimum amount of room to lie down and lie comfortably in the cubicle bed.

Conventional steel cubicles are set at 48inc / 1.2 meters. With the narrower placements in the EASYFIX cubicles you can achieve an extra cow space for every 15 cows or 6 cows in 100. This is an important factor in costing new builds.

Single Cubicle Beds

The recommended width for single cubicle beds is 8ft/2.4 meters. This width will even allow very large Holstein cows enough room to rise and lunge forward in the bed when lying down and getting up. When old dairy cubicle houses are being retrofitted this is not always achievable, but certainly in new builds this measurement should be the target.

Head-to-Head Cubicles Beds

15ft/4.57 meters is the recommended width for head to head cubicles; this will allow cows sufficient lunging room. It also facilitates the use of one post for two head-to-head cubicles in the EASYFIX system.

Cubicle Step Up

We recommend that the set up from the floor to the top of the mat is 7/8 inches in height. This height will help to maintain cleaner cubicle beds as it allows the effluent in the channel to be spread over a larger surface area.  5/6 inches is definitely too low.

Cubicle Passages

The width of the cubicle passage is recommended at a minimum of 10ft/3 meters. If cubicle passage is any narrower it will impede and restrict the movement of cows as they leave adjacent cubicle beds. Depending on the cleaning mechanism in the shed it can also lead to the channel between the cubicles filling up very quickly and the cows dragging the effluent up on the cubicle bed and in extreme cases leads to dirty hooves which in turn lead to laminitis.

Head Space at the Feeding Face

Cows require approx 2ft/0.6meter head space to feed sufficiently. This is particularly necessary for freshly calved cows where body reserves need to be maintained through maximizing intakes.

Cubicle to Feed Face

The cubicle to feed space is critical and should be at least 15 feet or 4.57 meters. This space will facilitate cleaner passages and easier movement of cows from their cubicles to the feed face.

Cubicle Cross Overs

Cubicle cross overs should be located after every 22 spaces. This allows for better cow flow and access to water which should be located at each 22 cow section.

Water At All Cross Overs

The availability of fresh clean water at all cross overs is highly recommended. As a rule of thumb a 750 kg dairy cow will consume 16 gallons / 73 litres of water per day in cold weather and double that amount in hot weather. It is important that drinking troughs are placed at each cross over point in a shed, so that cows don’t have to travel too far to access the trough.

The choice of water trough is also important with sufficient capacity in the trough, good water pressure and also that the troughs are easily cleaned.

Lameness In Dairy Housing

There is a growing awareness of the importance of controlling lameness in dairy herds. As in the case of most production diseases the causes of the problem is likely to be multifactorial. The incidence of lameness and the lesions associated with lameness varies widely between each management system, for example between pasture and dairy cows housed for the winter period and a large part of the year. Indoor concrete surfaces of milking yards and sheds can be abrasive, particularly in the case where an effort has been made to keep the surface rough to minimize cows slipping. Unfortunately a combination of this roughness and moisture leads to excessive hoof wear. A major cause of lameness in yards is caused by small stones and sand being brought into the yard from pasture and roadways.

Poorly designed farm yards with a lot of right angled turns leads to cows pivoting and twisting which causes extra pressure on the outside claw which in turn leads to lameness.. Excessive use of electrified backing gates causes cows to compact at the back of the yard, to lift their heads and move from side to side as they try to push forward reducing the cows ability for planned hoof placement and hoof injury can result. Likewise when cows are being encouraged into the milking area they can swerve away from the miller causing hoof injury. Rubber matting which is place in key areas round the farm yard will greatly help to offset the effect of hard concrete surfaces. Cows are more sure footed when they walk on rubber and their actual step length increase to that of waling on grass. Rubber with a good profile offers the grip of grooved concrete without the harmful effects to the claw. As well as helping to prevent and reduce lameness rubber also offers a cushioned flooring to cows that are old, with poor walking gait and existing lame cows. When lame cows walk on rubber flooring the recovery period is shortened.. There is no doubt that the strategic use of rubber in the collecting yard, on the milking platform, at the feed face and around the crush area will greatly reduce the amount of lameness, speed up milking time, reduce vet bills and increase production.