Considerations for Floors and Cubicles design in Dairy Cattle house construction.
Flooring for Dairy Cattle house construction
Stalls should be comfortable enough for high lactating cows to lay down at least 12 hours per day in zero-grazing systems. The most important aspect of a stall is the flooring; this should be soft and dry. It should also be non-skid to avoid slipping and falling when the cow lies down or gets up.
The barn plan has deep bedded free stalls. There are stalls without a concrete floor that are filled up with bedding.
By far the best bedding material is sand. Second best, close to sand, are deep bedding materials such as saw dust, (chopped) straw, rice hulls, dried manure solids and other dry materials that do not lead to formation of hard lumps when used in the cubicles.
All in all, mattresses and mats are highly inferior to deep bedding materials because they are expensive, wear off and become harder over time. Rubber mats are usually close to being just as hard as uncovered concrete. And mattresses and mats need a concrete surface underneath. Both mattresses and mats need good daily maintenance including use of drying materials such as saw dust. Research shows that 5 cm of saw dust should be used on mattresses and at least 10 cm on mats or concrete.
• Bring a high risk for the development of bruises, swellings and lesions on hocks and front knees of the cows. These cause pain, infections and lead to foot problems, stress and reduced milk production.
• They provide little grip and a hard lying surface, and therefore hardly contribute to cow comfort.
• They also demand the use of large amounts of bedding.
• They require higher investments (concrete, rubber/mattress).
Headspace for Dairy Cattle house construction
The second most important aspect is to create sufficient head space for the cow to swing her head when she lies down or gets up. The stall or cubicle needs a width of minimal 115 cm for a 135 cm high cow. Bigger cows need wider stalls. Optimal dimensions for modern HF cows (700 kg adult weight): 122 cm wide, 255 cm long, open head space, neck rail and brisket locator adjustable in position, distance neck rail and bedding minimal 1.30 cm.
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