The idea of residing house for cows is a comparatively new one. However for Gary Dalton, it has lengthy been a basic a part of his technique for the 370-head Holstein herd at Bushton Farm, close to Wootton Bassett.
“It is a Wiltshire County Council farm, and once we got here right here 23 years in the past, we had a vet, known as Peter Could, out to do some fertility work, and he obtained chatting in regards to the significance of giving cows house to make sure they specific pure behaviour,” explains Mr Dalton.
This sparked an entire rethink of the design of the farm’s buildings and cow areas, with a refurbishment that began about 15 years in the past. “On the time, we had previous kennel-style cubicles, so with the assistance from the council we determined to place up some new buildings to offer extra space for the cows.”
See additionally: Higher method of measuring reveals best dairy cow residing house
At the moment, Mr Dalton supplies extra space for his herd in two methods when housed – by elevated residing house and loafing areas.
The emphasis on house on the farm is so nice that Mr Dalton has not too long ago come out on high in a survey on residing house carried out by his milk purchaser.
Whereas the common residing house, in line with the survey, is about 4.5sq m a cow, at Bushton Farm it’s 11.5sq m a cow.
Bushton Farm, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire
- 370 Holstein cows (some cross-bred)
- Wiltshire County Council
- Common yield – 11,500 litres
- Grazed six months a 12 months. Housed and fed a TMR within the winter
- Calving index 390 days
Residing house refers back to the extra house offered to cows above the minimal requirement and consists of design options comparable to wider passageways.
Crimson Tractor requires a minimal house allowance of 6.5sq m a cow for dairy cows weighing 600-699kg.
The cubicle housing at Bushton Farm options 4.5m passageways. “I had seen some buildings that had 6m passages between cubicles, however this was not one thing we may afford, so 4.5m was compromise.
“We additionally guarantee there may be at all times good lunging house, and cubicles are 2.7m lengthy, reasonably than the extra conventional 2.4m.”
Within the contemporary cow home, there’s a 1.08m feed house allowance for every cow – in contrast with AHDB suggestions of not less than 0.7m of feed house for Holstein-Friesian cows.
AHDB additionally says that many top-performing herds are providing feed house nearer to 1m a cow.
Underpinning the elevated residing house is a aware determination to at all times permit round motion throughout the buildings – one thing that had by no means been prioritised on farm earlier than.
“This implies there are not any lifeless ends at any level within the shed, and the cow has the chance to show left or proper always.”
He additionally acquired some coaching by means of the George Vet Group on encouraging round motion and the advantages this has on cow welfare.
“It’s notably useful when there are extra dominant cows within the herd that would limit the motion of youthful, smaller cows. If the boss cow stops [a younger cow] turning proper, for instance, then this provides her the choice to go left.
“House just isn’t the whole lot – vitamin and cow well being are very important too. However when you have obtained all of the fundamentals proper aside from permitting ample house, then I don’t consider a cow will do as nicely.”
Because the title suggests, loafing house refers to areas apart from passageways and people used for feeding or mendacity, which cows can entry at any time.
It is a characteristic at Bushton Farm and offering cows with this outside loafing house has been basic in boosting complete cow house, explains Mr Dalton.
“All cows have an open space of concrete, which actually will increase our total house offered to every cow,” he says.
There are two cubicle homes – one with 130 beds and the opposite with 160. These have loafing areas of 25x6m and 30x10m, respectively.
There’s an open space between the buildings to offer an extra 20x8m pad for loafing.
“I feel it’s actually necessary from a cow welfare perspective – if she desires to have a little bit of ‘me’ time, she will. Very often within the night, even within the winter, we are going to see 10-15 cows simply stood on the market gazing.
“It’s not as a result of they’ve obtained nowhere to sleep or lie down, however just because that’s what they naturally wish to do.”
Whereas the measurable advantages of elevated house have been highlighted in current research (see “Analysis recap”), Mr Dalton says that quantifying the influence on a person farm foundation is trickier.
Nonetheless, he provides that is an space he and his milk purchaser are excited by wanting into sooner or later.
One thing tangible he has observed, nevertheless, is a discount in environmental mastitis instances, which he believes is down to higher housing for the cows. “We solely have about 5 instances a 12 months,” he says.
“We additionally didn’t have a single displaced abomasum for 3 years – once more, one thing I feel has been aided by having extra space.”
Whereas an exterior firm does all his breeding work, Mr Dalton provides that having extra space additionally means a better likelihood of expression of bulling exercise, which simplifies warmth detection.
“At any time when anybody visits the farm, they at all times touch upon how quiet and relaxed cows are, and I put this right down to them not feeling boxed in and having the liberty to go the place they like.”
His recommendation for others is easy. “Don’t inhibit a cow’s means to precise her potential by proscribing her freedom to maneuver.”
Gary Dalton’s suggestions for creating cow house
- At all times permit round motion in buildings. It’s value taking cubicles out if wants be
- Contained in the shed, concentrate on increasing passageways, feed faces and cubicles to extend house allowance
- Exterior, take into account giving cattle loafing areas. This may be so simple as a concrete pad. The secret is giving them the power freedom to roam as they please
- Bear in mind, house just isn’t the whole lot. Don’t overlook the significance of cow well being and vitamin when making an attempt to focus on total improved well being and wellbeing
The advantages of offering cows with extra “residing house” was highlighted in a current trial carried out by Jake Thomson on the College of Nottingham, in analysis funded by AHDB.
For the research, residing house was outlined as extra house above a baseline – considering the variety of cows in a gaggle, indoor and outside house, and cubicle numbers, width and size.
Cows have been cut up into two teams, with one group receiving 3sq m of residing house (9sq m complete house) and the opposite had 6.5sq m of residing house (14sq m complete house).
A constructive impact was seen the place cows got extra space. Headline outcomes have been:
- 100-600 litres yield improve
- A one-hour improve in mendacity time a day
- 10-minute improve in feed entry a day
Learn the total research outcomes