More Comfortable Dairy Cattle Freestalls
Posted: October 6, 2005
Advancements in dairy cattle housing continue to focus on enhancing cow resting areas. An ideal freestall will allow a cow to recline, rise and change position without coming into contact with any portion of the stall except the base or bedding. Items such as partitions, neck rails, brisket tubes and stall support structure should be guides that define the cow’s resting area but do not hinder her movements or result in injuries or entrapment. Important items to consider in selecting and installing freestalls include:
- Cow size, breed, age, stage of lactation
- Open or closed front freestalls
- Base and bedding that provide a comfortable and confident surface for resting
- Lunge space for cow to extend her body into as she reclines and rises
- Convenient maintenance that allows caretakers to keep cows clean, dry and comfortable.
Engineers with Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department are updating our dairy idea plans to include up-to-date research and field observations related to dairy cattle freestall design, dimensions and construction. The following table is taken from Dairy Idea Plan 821 Cow Freestall (Cubicle) Types and Details. The recommendations account for the differences caused by whether a stall has and open or closed front and also the type and depth of the resting surface base and bedding. Ultimately this information provides guidance as to how much space each stall will occupy and where to place the components. Final adjustments of the components will require careful observation of the cows.
- Do cows readily and easily use the stalls?
- Are there injuries, punctures, abrasions, swelling to hocks, legs, hips …?
- Do cows have to push, bang or bump against stall components to recline, rise or change positions?
Table. 1 Suggested dimensions for open and closed front freestalls for mature dairy cattle. (DIP 821, September 2005)
|Animal Weight (lbs)
||Total Stall Length -Closed Front (in)
||Total Stall Length -Open Front (in)||Length to Brisket Tube or Board (in)
||Length to Neck Rail (in)
||Stall Width center to center (in)
||Height to Top of Partition (in)
||Height to Neck Rail (in)
||Brisket Board or Tube Ht. (in)
|900-1100||90-96||78 -82||64 -66||62 -64||41 -43||42 - 44||42-44||4 - 6|
|1100-1300||96-102||80 –86||66 –68||64 –66||43 –45||44 – 46||44–46
||4 - 6|
|1300-1500||102-108||90 -96||68 -70||66 –68
||45 -48||46 - 48||46-48||4 - 6|
|1500-1700||108-114||96-102||70 -72||68 -70||48 -52||48 - 52||48 -52||4 - 6|
To access this new dairy idea plan and others as they are released go to the extension section of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department web page Http://abe.psu.edu and search on Idea Plans. Currently there are new plans for a variety of freestall shelter layouts as well as a variety of construction details. New plans are being added as they are competed. Stop by and take a look, comments are welcome.
Robert E. Graves, Agricultural, Biological, & Engineering Extension