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Choosing the right housing for your Dairy Farm

Teplu
Teplu

The success or failure of many dairy farms is linked directly to the kind of housing. In many farms managing animals is easier because of the type of housing they have chosen. In some farms, farmers have landed into various kinds of problems because of the type of housing. The type of housing that you choose for your dairy farm also determines the labor that you will require everyday. Smart dairy farmers construct dairy housing structures that reduce the incidence of diseases. A proper housing system also reduces the overall expenses of the farm. 

Before you start constructing your dairy farm you need to consider a few important factors: 

Availability of water: When you choose the location of your farm’s housing, it is important that you balance several factors together. The most important factor is the availability of enough water. A dairy animal on average requires 150-200 litres of water daily. Check the quality of water for impurities and pollutants. Water must be of good quality and potable by animals.

Elevation: For medium to large scale dairy farms try to get a piece of land that is elevated and higher than the surroundings. This is because dairy operations require a lot of semi-solid and solid waste disposal everyday. An elevation helps in drainage, keeping the surroundings clear, and avoiding foul smell. 

Market: If you set your farm very far away from customers or the market it may increase your transport costs. If you have your customers picking up milk from your farm, then ensure that they can reach your farm easily. If you create a farm by understanding the market then you will not have to sell your milk at low cost. 

Fodder availability: All dairy animals need green fodder such as maize, alfa alfa, Napier Grass, etc. You will have to find the availability of feed and fodder near your dairy farm. If you want to grow green fodder then the land should be of good quality so that you can get a good yield from the fodder. You must plan to prepare silage in your dairy farm as silage making increases the profits on a dairy farm. 

Weather Conditions: Whatever the weather condition, it should not harm your animals. For that, you need to customize your dairy housing design. In heavy rainfall areas, the housing structure should be made such that it should not get broken by heavy showers and strong winds. In temperate areas, partially loose housing along with the tied system of housing with walls is desirable. In this system, due attention is given to protect animals from heavy snowfall, rain, and strong wind. For hot dry areas, you should provide a shaded area for animals during hot sunny days which saves the animals from direct solar radiation.  

dairy farm
Dairy Farm

Types of housing systems that you can choose from; 

There are three ways in which animals can be kept inside housing structures: Loose housing, Semi Loose Housing, or Tied System. 

Loose housing system for dairy farms:  

When animals are kept loose and they move around freely, it is called Loose Housing. In some cases, they may be tied up only during milking and sometimes during feeding. A loose housing system is suitable for farms of all sizes. Animals can drink water anytime. Removal of manure is done differently in different farms as per the rainfall conditions. In loose housing, due to the soft dry bedding provided to animals, the incidence of diseases is less. While getting up and sitting down the animals do not get injured. One animal has to be provided with a minimum of 150 to 200 sq ft area. 

Tied Housing System:  

These are housing systems where animals are kept tied up in the same place. The sheds are completely roofed and walls are also complete with windows or ventilators at suitable places. Farms that are located near cities or inside cities do not get much space and hence they opt for tied systems. 

Semi Loose Housing 

In this kind of housing, the animals are generally kept tied but let loose for sometime during the day. This may be while they are being offered feed and fodder or during other times. They may be tied and kept for resting during the night and brought to the feed manger during the feeding and milking time. They are also kept tied during the rainy season. 

Various Components that you must consider before constructing a dairy farm; 

Shed 

The shed is the structure under which the animals stay. They are fed and milked under the shed. Ideally, the higher the shed, the more ventilation will the animals get.  The shed should be constructed in a North-South direction so that you can get ample sunlight inside your shed both in the morning and evening. Heat stress also gets reduced if you have a properly constructed shed. It also helps to keep the shed dry. The roof has to be made of a material that does not easily transmit heat.  

Floor 

The floor is made of concrete in the feeding and standing area. It can be made of mud in the resting areas and provided with bedding. While constructing the concrete floor care has to be taken as dairy animals can weigh over 500 kgs and sometimes up to 700 Kgs which might cause the floors to break if not constructed properly. The areas where cows or buffaloes walk must be slip-resistant and gentle to them. The floor should also be designed so that fluids such as urine should drain easily and the floor should be as dry as possible. 

Manger 

A concrete feed manger is one where feed and fodder are served to animals.  It should be elevated one foot from the ground. In low-cost farms, you can use concrete pipes which can be cut into two pieces. This is the cheapest way of creating a manger where feed can be given to animals. At the base of the manger, iron rings can be fitted at every 3 feet distance. The rings can be used to tie the animals while milking.  

Water Troughs 

Dairy animals should get ample amounts of fresh and clean water at all times. Each compartment in a dairy farm should have two water troughs. They can be placed on opposite sides so that cows should be able to reach easily to the water trough nearest to them. If any of the troughs gets empty or becomes defective then the other trough can be used by the animals for sometime.  

Milking & Feeding Area: 

In small dairy farm, normally milking can be done where the animals stand to feed or near manger. In a loose housing system, animals are tied during milking in small farms. Milking area is the same as feeding area in small farms. 

dairy stats
Dairy Housing Design

In hot and humid areas, the sheds of milking cows must be fitted with fans, exhaust fans, and fogger or sprinkler systems. In summers due to high temperatures cross-bred cows come under heat stress and their milk production gets drastically reduced if not taken care of. Their ability to conceive also reduces leading to lower breeding efficiency. When you use a sprinkler, the waterfalls on the skin of cows and evaporates thereby dissipating the heat from the body. If you only use a sprinkler or fogger and not fans along with them, then the water will not evaporate from the body of the cows and they will not cool down. If your farm is in a place with high humidity then a sprinkler will work better than a fogger because foggers work to cool the air around the cow rather than cooling the skin of the cow directly. What works best is a combination of exhaust fans, normal fans, and sprinklers or foggers. 

Here's a complete guide on how to construct housing and get designs of Dairy Farms.

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