Yards need to be designed in a way that allows cows to enter the yard calmly and have sufficient space for them to arrange themselves into their milking order.
Yard Shape - which is best?
If cows’ heads are raised in the yard, they are too crowded. This may be due to inappropriate use of the backing gate or a yard that is too small. When working out how big your yard should be, consider the average size/number of cows in the herd and possible future increases in cow numbers.
Calculating the correct yard area
- Calculate the maximum sized mob which will need yarding.
- Multiply by the space required per cow. Depending on the average cow size this can be between 1.2 m2 (Jersey) to 1.5 m2 (large Friesian).
- Once the total yard area has been determined then the dimensions of different shaped yards can be calculated.
- Rectangular yard: Area= length x width
- Circular yard: Area = 3.142 x radius2
Example: For a 400 jersey herd in a circular yard:
- 1.2m² per cow = 480m²
- 480 ÷ 3.142 = 153m²
- √153 = 12.4m radius yard
The best place for cows to enter the yard is from the rear. If cows can fill the yard in the same order they come in from the paddock, they will flow better into the yard and dairy.
Entry into the side of the yard may be necessary due to the position of the tracks, although good cow flow can still be achieved if the entry is near the rear of the yard and cows have time and space to quickly arrange themselves into their milking order.
Tips that can help cow flow in the yard
- Widen the race by 2 metres before it connects with the yard. This can often become a congestion point, especially if there is a kerb.
- Tapering the yard towards the dairy entrance can aid cow flow. It eliminates dead corners and cows are spaced for smooth entry to the dairy.
- When laying new concrete, use stamping, trowelling, rolling, or brush with a coarse broom to provide traction.
- Narrow vertical gaps in the fencing allows easy access and escape for people.
- Consider additional facilities during the yard design stage – this ensures the yarding system can cope with the full range of activities required. If correctly positioned, the race, crush and loading ramp can all fit in.
Hoof wear can be reduced by any of the following methods:
- Providing cushioning on the areas where cows turn. Several matting options are available which provide cushioning, traction and durability.
- Scabbling or texturing of hardened concrete to improve traction can be done through experienced concrete contractors. This creates a safe and durable surface, and can be done on both existing and new yards.
- Cutting through diamond grooving provides better traction than parallel grooving. For effective traction, diamonds need to have centres of 75mm or less.
Efficient yard cleaning
The amount of manure deposited on the yard is related to the time the cows spend there and cow stress levels.