Posted: November 20, 2009
Cleanliness is next to Godliness for most people and it is also an important consideration for dairy producers. When creating the stalls for dairy cattle, the ones that encourage increased lying time and four-foot standing in the stall will help keep the cow clean. The first step to design a functional cow stall that will help preserve cleanliness is to find the right size to meet your needs as well as those of your animals.
One of your first considerations in determining the size to make your stalls is the variation that occurs in the size of cattle within each herd. To start, you will need the dimensions of the cows that are just starting to lactate as well as the mature cows in your heard. Measure the smallest and largest cows in the herd as well as those in the middle. Many dairy producers now build stalls sized for the different size requirements needed within the same herd.
A tie stall is one in which the cow is chained to a pole to the front of her. This type of stall will also take more consideration in the placement of the different features including the pole and the water bowl to allow her plenty of room for access as well as lunging motion.
When considering the dimensions for tie stalls, you will need to use the measurements of the room needed for the cow while lying down as well as the lunge room required for rising and lying motions. A typical Holstein cow will need twenty inches of open forward space in addition to the head to tail measurement in order to provide adequate lunging motion. You will also have to calculate the vertical placement of the tie rail from the top of the mattress. The tie rail forward location will be a horizontal measurement that is based on the location of the gutter curb.
The tie rail is the pipe that is used to attach the chain to control the forward location of the cow while it is standing in the stall. When the tie rail is placed properly, the cow will stand parallel to the dividers and all of her feet will be in the stall. She will have free access to rise or lie without having contact of the rail. The tie rail should be located approximately 0.8 x the rump height of the animal. You will need to mount it forward of the manger curb and over the manger to prevent neck injuries in your cattle. As a rule, 48 inches should be the distance you have between the bottom of the tie pipe and the mattress in addition to placing the tie rail 86 inches forward of the gutter curb.
The width of the tie stall must also be considered and this will usually range from 54” to 60”, depending on the size of the cow.
You will need to allow for the cushioning surface for tie stalls when considering the measurements. The most commonly used material for this purpose has been straw in the past. However, rubber fill mattresses are quickly gaining in popularity as subsurface materials to place beneath the mattress. While you will still have to cover the rubber with a minimum three-inch layer of chopped straw, sawdust, or similar material to provide the cow with ample traction, the rubber will provide your cattle with the cushioning they require.
The proper dimensions for the water bowl are determined by the nose to pole length. For a mature cow, this distance is usually 24 inches so you will need to allow more than this distance between the top of the bowl and any obstruction above it.
Every detail that you consider in determining the best stall dimensions to use for your cattle will make a difference in the cleanliness of your stall and the health of each cow as will the choice in the materials you use for the surface and bedding. Rubber mats will provide the animals with the cushioning they need to prevent injury and careful consideration of the measurements of the mattress to the water bowl will ensure that your animals are provided with the access they need to obtain food and water without interference from other sources.