Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Housing cows: dairy

Synonym(s): Cow comfort, economics, buildings, management, welfare, slurry management

Contributor(s): Owen Atkinson , Roger Blowey

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Introduction

  • Most UK dairy farms will house their cows for at least the winter months and many now include all-year housing for their adult herd – particularly higher yielding herds.
  • There has been some public disquiet about housed dairy cows in recent years, brought to particular attention perhaps by the Nocton Dairy debate in 2010 in which a planning application was submitted for an 8,000 cow housed herd in Lincolnshire (UK).
  • The image of a cow housed in a concrete palace clashes somewhat with the bucolic idyll of cows grazing lush pastures.
  • However, for those in regular contact with dairy herds, it is easy to appreciate that the realities can be quite different from perceptions and that all-year housing can occur handin-hand with excellent welfare.
  • Conversely, health and welfare can sometimes be compromised where cows are housed, perhaps only for relatively short periods, in outdated accommodation which was built for a smaller sized cow and without due consideration for a cow’s needs.

Does cow comfort pay?

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Space and cow flow

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Slurry management and floors

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Further considerations

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Adams A E et al (2016) Associations between housing and management practices on the prevalence of lameness, hock lesions, and thin cows in U.S. dairy operations. Journal of dairy science 100, 2119-2136 PubMed.
  • Barker Z E et al (2010) Assessment of lameness prevalence and associated risk factors in dairy herds in England and Wales. Journal of dairy science 93, 932-941 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Atkinson A (2016) Herd Health Management. A comprehensive guide. Dairy Veterinary Consultancy Ltd & W M Morrison Supermarkets plc.
  • Grandin T (2015) Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach. CABI Publishing, Oxfordshire, Wallingford, United Kingdom.


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