Following good practice also ensures you are well above the minimum standards for off-paddock facilities that were introduced into the Dairy Cattle Code of Welfare in October 2019.
A different set of management skills is needed when managing cows inside. The varied housing types and the differing lengths of time cows stay inside means management priorities vary from farm to farm and month to month.
The Welfare code requires additional comfort measures if dairy cows are kept in facilities for more that 16 hours a day for more than 3 consecutive days. In practice, this includes housing over winter, cows housed for lactating period (usually with robotic milking facilities), and hybrid systems that are driven by wet conditions. Ensuring your facility provides a comfortable environment for your herd allows you the flexibility to use it above the minimum standards, regardless of how long you use it for.
Dairy cow housing guide
Dairy cow housing is a good practice guide for dairy housing in New Zealand
It is designed for farmers who are planning to build a housed cow facility, or who already have one and would like more information on how to achieve good practice.
- Design aspects to consider when looking at housing system options
- Factors affecting housed cow comfort
- Good practice management principles for housed cows
- Options for future-proofing your barn
- Code of Welfare minimum standards
Ventilation is a critical part of good management. These videos show what you can do to ensure optimum conditions for a housed herd.
Having clean cows is an indicator of good cow comfort and welfare as cows prefer to lie on clean, dry and comfortable bedding which also reduces the risk of disease.
Woodchip pads and loose housed barns use a lot of woodchip. It is expensive, so make the most of used bedding by integrating it into your nutrient plan.
Cows require shade to reduce the impact of heat stress that reduces productivity.
Lameness risks in housed facilities
Find out about the lameness risks associated with keeping cows in off paddock facilities here.
Mastitis risks in off-paddock facilities
Cows that spend long periods of time in close contact with dairy effluent are more at risk of developing environmental mastitis.