New legal framework conditions also affect the design of sustainable barns. The straw-saving cubicle barn with bedding or cow comfort mattress will remain the standard solution in dairy farming. If you are planning a new building now, there are a few things you should consider to ensure that the barn remains sustainable in the long term.
The adopted reduction of ammonia emissions in cattle housing will have an impact on the structural design. Photo: Sarah Wiedemann-Hob
The drastic reduction of ammonia emissions from agriculture, which has been laid down for the states of the European Union, will strongly influence the construction of stalls. Agriculture is a significant contributor to ammonia emissions – especially cattle farming. Due to the high emission-active surface, the treads account for a relatively large proportion of the total area. However, the distribution of emissions is very differentiated due to the varying livestock densities. There are a number of ways to reduce ammonia emissions. In the following remarks, only the structural design options will be considered. The straw-saving cubicle (cubicle with bedding or cow comfort mattress) will remain the standard solution in dairy farming in many parts of the world for the foreseeable future. This results from the lower process costs compared to deep litter and pedal manure barns.
In addition, pollutant gas emissions are lower on average. The walkways can be slatted or paved with regular manure removal. Animal-friendly walkways are non-slip and sure-footed and have a width of at least 3 m. Wide walkways will allow for the required individual or. Escape distances and reduce quarrels. When using surface slatted floors, the cows are generally cleaner compared to planarized walkways. Cleaning will increasingly be done by robots. The slat widths of the slatted floors should be a maximum of 35 mm and the tread widths between 100 and 140 mm. With new slatted floors, sharp edges in the area of the slits can lead to claw damage. Therefore, they are to be designed before occupancy of the barn by using z.B. of a tube to be deburred. In the case of paved walkways, stationary equipment should be given preference over the mobile variant of tractors with bulldozer blades or front-end loaders in the interest of labor productivity, animal cleanliness and hoof health, as well as the possibilities for reducing emissions.
Stationary equipment includes wide and folding slides. They enable more frequent removal of slurry/manure from the walkways than is feasible when using a tractor due to the high labor costs, and therefore result in low ammonia emissions. Despite repeated clearing of the paved walkways, they are still often damp and thus not safe to walk on. In the interest of increasing running comfort, they should be provided with a mastic asphalt covering. Rubber mats are best suited for feeding aisles and waiting yards.
The lying area should be sized to allow unobstructed lying down and standing up, as well as relaxed lying in all lying positions. The surface must be soft, malleable, non-slip and have an insulating effect so that acceptance is high and cows rest 12 to 14 h a day. Deep stalls are preferred over high stalls due to less cow soiling, low percentage of hock injuries, and better acceptance by cows. The high stalls for dairy cows should be 2.60 to 2.70 m long in the wall row and 2.40 m long and 1.20 to 1.30 m wide in the double row (Tab. 2). In the double row 2.40 m are sufficient, since the head space can be used for the head swing when standing up. To support the self-cleaning of the lying surface, a slope of 3 to 4 % should be installed. Too great a slope can impair lying comfort.
For the right position
As a protection against other cows and as a prerequisite for the correct lying position, cubicle dividers are used. Cantilevered, i.e. support-free, galvanized tubular steel stanchions in the lying area are the most suitable from the point of view of animal welfare and hygiene. The neck tube is usually placed at a height of 1.10 m. The installation of the neck tube limits the cows from lying down forward and results in the cows having to step back when standing up. The neck tube increases the cleanliness of the stalls and the animals and the acceptance of the stalls by the cows also increases due to the better lying position and the uncomplicated standing up process.
However, neck tubes that are too low can lead to an unsuitable posture when standing in the stall and to a deterioration in feed intake.
Comfort for the cow
Cow comfort mattresses should be used as flooring for reasons of animal welfare, cow health, and cow performance. Due to the high deformability, punctual pressure loads are avoided and/or. minimizes, joint problems in the herd become less frequent. The cows lie longer in the stalls, the dissipation of heat from the udders is reduced and cow cleanliness increases. This in turn improves udder cleanliness and less time is needed in the milking parlor for udder cleaning. The use of small amounts of bedding can bind any film of moisture that may develop. In addition, the lying time of the animals increases by 5 to 10 % and the risk of injury decreases. Sawdust, straw shavings, wood shavings or separated manure solids can be used as bedding.
The deep stalls should be 2.70 to 2.80 m long in the wall row and 2.50 m long and 1.20 to 1.30 m wide in the double row. The 10 cm increase in overall length compared to the high box is due to the rear separation from the walkway by the litter sill. The concrete or wooden litter threshold should be 0.15 to 0.25 m high, thus ensuring that a straw mat of 0.15 to 0.25 m can be built up. The lying area should be provided with a slope of 2%. For the front area of the cubicle, deep cubicle cushions can increase cow comfort. The neck tube is to be aligned to 1.10 to 1.25 m depending on the growing straw mat. The main bedding materials are straw, straw meal and sawdust. Bedding with miscanthus (Chinese reed) or separated manure solids is also possible. Straw has a high water-binding capacity provided it has been harvested under favorable weather conditions and stored properly.
No patent remedy
In general, it can be said that there is no "one optimal housing system" from the point of view of the criteria mentioned, but that the farm characteristics and special initial conditions have a great influence on the choice of the housing system.
In the foreseeable future, the straw-saving cubicle as a deep stall, but also the high stall with cow comfort mattress will remain the standard solution in dairy farming for reasons of lower process costs, better animal cleanliness and hygiene on average. However, the trend in new construction is more towards deep stalls. Those who want to use automatic milking systems in the future will also generally opt for these types of housing. In order to improve the well-being, animal health, ruminating activity as well as the milk yield and thus also the productivity of dairy cattle, the resting behavior of the animals must be optimized. This is possible primarily through adapted berth dimensions and by ensuring berth comfort.
The surface of the cubicle should be littered, soft, thermally insulated and slip-proof, and guarantee that the cows can get up and lie down without hindrance. Clean, dry bedding with the lowest possible germ content is a basic requirement for good stable hygiene. Offering running yards, while beneficial from an animal welfare standpoint if managed well, carries the risk of higher ammonia due to the larger emissions active surface area-