Comparison of FreestallBarns Used by Modernized Wisconsin Dairies
Journal of Dairy Science
A primary objective of the Wisconsin Dairy Modernization Survey was to compare features of free-stall barns available to dairy producers. This study used data from a large random sample of expanding dairy farms to determine whether the theoretical benefits of particular free-stall configurations bear out under on-farm conditions. Comparisons were made among herds using free-stall barns as their primary housing for new versus remodeled facilities, barn design, bedding used, feed-delivery design, manure removal strategies, animal restraint, maternity areas, overcrowding, and cooling methods. Producers who made the transition from tie-stall housing to free-stall housing were satisfied with this decision. New free-stall barns provided a more desirable environment for the herds than remodeled free-stall barns, although initial investments were higher. When new free-stall barns were compared, herds with four-row barns had higher production, lower somatic cell count, and higher stocking rates than herds with six-row barns. Respondents were more satisfied with four- and six-row barns than with two- and three-row barns. Respondents felt sand provided some advantages for cow comfort, while satisfaction with bedding cost and manure handling was higher with mattresses. Dairy Herd Improvement data showed no difference in milk production or somatic cell count for producers who chose sand or mattress-based free stalls. Respondents were more satisfied with the use of drive-through feeding than other feed-delivery designs. Most producers chose to use tractor scrapers to remove manure; however, producers who used automated systems were more satisfied with manure management. Few differences were observed when comparing self-locking head gates to palpation rails. Overcrowding did not have any adverse affect on production or user satisfaction with feed intake or cow comfort. Using supplemental cooling appeared to facilitate higher production.
Bewley, J., R. W. Palmer, and D. B. Jackson-Smith, 2001. “Comparison of Freestall Barns Used by Modernized Wisconsin Dairies,” Journal of Dairy Science, 84:528-541.