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Cow Comfort in Tie Stalls

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
April 15, 2015        
Source:  Emily Wilmes, Extension Educator-Livestock
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Cow Comfort in Tie Stalls
By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (04/15/15) — When we hear the phrase, “cow comfort,” an image of freestalls is usually what pops into our heads.  Or perhaps a bedded pack.  I will admit that for myself, I rarely consider cow comfort for tie stalls.  However, shouldn’t all cows be comfortable, no matter how they’re housed?  Here are some things to consider for cow comfort in tie stalls.

As always, adequate and proper bedding is a must.  Some tie stall managers like to use mattresses or waterbeds.  These are great options for the concrete surface, but should still use some bedding for maximum comfort.  Most farmers opt to use straw, sawdust, or sand for their bedding.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages. 

The important thing is that whatever is used is properly managed.  This includes using the right amount and adding more or changing the bedding when necessary.  Use the “kneel test” to see if the bedding is wet.  Kneel down into the bedding.  If you stand up with wet knees that means your cows are getting more than wet knees.   One final consideration for bedding is how it works for manure removal in the gutter system.  You want bedding that will not clog the system and can be removed easily.

Another important aspect of cow comfort in any type of barn is ventilation.  Tie stall barns offer some unique ventilation challenges, especially with their lower ceilings.  Low ceilings can create stagnant air, which is troublesome in the summer months.  Fans are a great way to keep air flowing and provide your cows with proper ventilation.  Now is a great time to look at the current ventilation in your tie stall barn, and make any necessary additions or changes before summer comes. 

Dairy cows can thrive in any environment as long as they are properly managed.  A major part of that management is good cow comfort.


Emily Wilmes
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems - Livestock
(320) 255-6169
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