Are your dairy cows having problems? Are they having injuries, lameness or mastitis? Could your stall design be causing the problems? Continue reading below to find out if your dairy cow stall design is the one causing your dairy cows’ problems.
Is the stall surface cushion comfortable? How can you tell if a stall cushion is comfortable? Try kneeling on the stall cushion. According to Nordlund & Cook (2011), the surface should shape to your knees and keep your knees clean and dry. Rise slightly from the kneeling position then drop to your knees. If it is still comfortable then the surface cushion is soft enough. If the surface cushion is not solid enough, switch out your surface cushion. Sand is the preferred cushion, but you can use other natural materials such as wood shavings, sawdust, or straw. But, be aware that if there is moisture, then bacteria can grow.
Does the stall have ample body resting space? Having plenty of resting space is having enough space for the cow to rest. Typical resting places for cows are 48 inches wide and 66 inches long. Use a brisket board to define a space in a front stall. It can help place the cow correctly and not taint the stall with urine and fecal matter. It will also reduce the chance the cow will get trapped in the stall.
Does you stall design have room for the cow’s head to trust and have no obstructions? Cows rise with their rear legs first. But first, the cow will get on her knees and thrust her muzzle forward. She changes her weight to her front legs, and then the cow will get up using her rear legs. If the stall is slick or lacking space for her to swing forward, then the cow could get injured.
Is there sufficient height below and behind the neck rail? Why should there be enough space below and behind the neck rail? The neck rail acts as a structural foundation for the dividers and helps place the cow from causing pollution such as urine and feces to the stall. Place the neck rail as far forward as possible. Do not put it too far back of the stall because if will interfere with access. If you are using a brisket board, ensure it is directly overhead or somewhat frontward. If not, the cows will be continually hitting their heads. (Nordlund & Cook, 2011)
By asking yourself these questions can help you decide if your stall design is causing your dairy cows’ problems. Now you can assess your stall design and make the necessary corrections if needed. To talk more about this, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks.