Maximizing cow's comfort can help to increase milk production and improved health. Here are some tips to help improve cow's comfort:
1) Design and dimensions
The size of stall should allow the cow to stand up and lie down naturally.
If neck rails and brisket boards are used, they must be placed correctly to provide sufficient lunge space.
Your stall needs to be able to fit the largest cow, not the average-size cows.
If the stalls are too small, it will cause discomfort to the cows.
If the stalls are too big, it will provide cow comfort but it will also result in dirty stalls and cows which will increase the maintenance cost.
If the cows are comfortable, they will be either lying down or standing parallel in the stalls.
If cows are uncomfortable, they will be perching in the stalls and lying diagonally.
When deciding what bedding to use, consider the price, availability, effects on cow comfort and manure handling system.
The goal is to minimize exposure to environmental mastitis and keep the cows dry and clean.
Generally, stall bases are either mattresses or deep bedded with sand.
When using mattresses, at least 3 inches of bedding should be on top of the stall base.
If using deep-bedded stalls, at least 6 inches of sand is required.
3) Stocking density
When a barn has more cows than stalls, then it is considered overstocked.
It is recommended to house fresh cows at around 80% stocking density.
Understocking provides no benefit while overstocking will create competition between cows for resources and it will inhibit the cow from behaving naturally.
Stocking density at the freestalls should never exceed 120%.
If the barn is overstocked, it will decrease time of cows resting and lying down.
More time spent standing leads to higher chances of lameness and it will also increase stress and reduce immune system.