Simple tips for creating a milking shed and pens for cow and calf

July 29, 2015

The well-being of your cows is a top priority for any dairy farm. Here are a few principles to keep in mind when planning and building a milking shed for cows, as well as pens for both cows and their calfs.

Simple tips for creating a milking shed and pens for cow and calf

A simple housing solution

A simple three-sided shed provides the healthiest environment for a cow.

  • With the open front facing away from prevailing winds, the shed ensures plenty of ventilation and allows warm, drying sunlight to reach all the way inside.
  • The cow should also have access to outdoor shade away from the shed.

Create a pleasant milking station

The milking area needs careful planning. While a cow can be milked almost anywhere, a well-planned, easy-to-clean area close to the cow's sleeping shed will make the job easier and more sanitary.

  • Floors should be concrete, sloping towards a drain or gutter.
  • Running water is helpful for hosing down walls and floors.
  • There should be ample room to store grain for feeding at milking time.

The same building might contain a calf pen or a place where a temporary one can be constructed from movable panels.

  • A lean-to on the cow's shed provides a place to store straw or other bedding material as well as hay, which must be kept dry to protect its nutritional value.

Things to keep in mind

  • The cow's stall is open to sun and air.
  • A stanchion holds a box for grain the cow eats during milking.
  • A solid wall separates the milking area from the calf pen to prevent contamination from dirty bedding.
  • A calf pen provides at least three square metres (32 square feet) of floor space. The floor is concrete or screen mesh with bedding on top.
  • The window area must be large, to ­provide maximum light and air.
  • A fenced area is on well-drained soil, has nearby trees for shade and contains a manger for feeding hay.
  • The calf pen must be especially well tended. Bedding is changed frequently and the floor is sometimes raised to avoid drafts.
  • Bedding is straw, sawdust or shavings.

Consider these tips and create a comfortable living space and milking station for your dairy cows. You may be surprised by how easy it is!

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