What would be an ideal housing for cattle in dairy farming?
Management of cattle in an efficient way will not be complete without a good plan and housing of cattle which is adequate. There may be a problem of additional labour charges if there is no proper planning for animal housing. You must always make sure that the housing has proper sanitation, durability, arrangements for the production of clean milk under a comfortable atmosphere in an economic way.
Location of Dairy farm:
The points which should be considered before the creation of dairy farms are as follows.
Topography and drainage :
The dairy farms should be raised well from the ground which is surrounding in order to offer a good slope for rainfall and more drainage for dairy wastes to avoid stagnation and for the spread of diseases. A levelled area needs less site preparation and thus it takes the lesser cost for the building. Low lands and depressions should never be encouraged.
Exposure to the sun and protection from wind :
You need to make sure that the dairy farm you are constructing has maximum exposure to the sun in the north and minimum exposure in the south. It should also be protected to protect strong wind currents whether hot or cold. Buildings should be placed in such a way that sunlight can reach the platforms, gutters and managers in the cattle shed directly. It is good to have a long axis of the dairy barns set in the north-south direction to have the maximum benefit of the sun.
There should be a good supply of fresh, clean and soft water.
Cows should not be moving near the areas where gates are narrow, high manger curbs, loose hinges, protruding nails, smooth finished floor.
Availability of honest, economic and regular supply of labour is a must.
You need to make sure that your dairy farm is located in those areas where your dairy products can be sold regularly with profit. The owner should be in such a position that all the needs of the farm would be satisfied within no time and at prices which are reasonable.
Facilities, labour, food:
Cattle yards should always be located near the feed storages, haystacks, silo and manure pits as this effects the most efficient utilization of labour. There must be enough space for each cow and well-arranged feeding will not only contribute to a greater yield of milk from cows but also makes the work of the operator easier minimizing the feed expenses.
The cattle shed should be completely surrounded by a wall of height 5″ from three sides and manger etc., on one side. The feeding area should have 2 to 2 ½ feet of manger space for each cow. Across the manger, there should be a water trough with a width of 10″ in order to provide clean drinking water. The water trough is constructed as it will minimize the loss of fodders at the time of feeding. Near the manger and below the roofed house, a floor with a 5″ width should be arranged with bricks which are a bit slope. Adding to this, open unpaved area(40’X35′) is a must and should be surrounded by a wall of 5″ wall with one gate. It is always suggested that the animals face north direction when they are eating fodder under the shade. During cold winds in winter, the dairy animals will automatically lie down to have the protection from the walls.
Cow sheds should be arranged in a single row if there are less number of cows. In double row housing, the stable should be arranged in such a way that the cows face out (tail to the tail system) or face in (head to the head system) as per the preference.
The floor which is inside the barn should be of some material which does not allow any fluids to pass through it so that it can be kept clean and dry and will not be slippery. A grooved floor which is made of cement concrete is better. The surface of the cowshed should be laid with a gradient of 1″ to 1 14″ from manger to excreta channel. An overall floor space of 65 to 70 sq.ft. per an adult, the cow would be satisfactory.
The inside of the walls should have a finish of cement which is smooth and hard, which will not allow any lodgment of dust and moisture. Corners should be round. The open space in between supporting pillars will serve for light and air circulation.
The roof of the barn should be made of an asbestos sheet or tiles. However, the iron sheets with aluminium painted tops which reflect sun rays and bottoms provided with wooden insulated ceilings can also be used to achieve your objective. A height of 8 feet at the sides and 15 feet at the ridge is enough to provide the cows with the necessary airspace. An adult cow requires a minimum of 800 cubic feet of airspace under tropical conditions.
When it comes to cleanliness and durability, a cement concrete continuous manger with partitions which are removable is the best. A height of 1 ‘-5″ for a high front manger and 6″ to 9″ for a low front manger is enough. Low front mangers will be more comfortable for cattle but high front mangers prevent wastage of feed. The height at the back of the manger should always be kept at 2′-5″ to 3″. A width of 2′ to 2 1/2’ is sufficient for a good manger.
The central walk should be of width 5′-5′ excluding the gutters when cows face out, and 4′-6′ when they face in. The feed alley, in case of a face out system, should be 4′ wide, and the central walk should show a slope of 1″ from the centre towards the two gutters running parallel to each other, by forming a crown at the centre.
The manure gutter should be in a width such that it would be enough to hold all the so that it does not get blocked, and would be easy to clean. Suitable dimensions for a manure gutter would be 2″ width with a 1” cross-fall away from standing. For every 10′ length, the gutter should have a gradient of 1″. This will permit a free flow of liquid excreta.
The doors of a single row cowshed should be 5″ wide with a height of 7′, and for double row shed the width should not be less than 8″ to 9′. All doors of the barn should lie flat against the external wall when fully open.
Sheds for Young Stocks :
Calves should never be kept along with adults in the cowshed. The calf house must have provision for daylight ventilation and proper drainage. Damp and ill-drained floors cause respiratory trouble in calves which is harmful. For an efficient calf management and housing, the young stock should be divided into three groups, viz., young calves aged to one-year bull calves, female calves. Each group should be sheltered in a separate calf house or calf shed. As far as possible the shed for the young calves should be quite close to the cowshed.