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Housing for Dairy Cattle

An efficient management of cattle will be incomplete without a well-planned and adequate housing of cattle. Improper planning in the arrangement of animal housing may result in additional labour charges and that curtail the profit of the owner. During erection of a house for dairy cattle, care should be taken to provide comfortable accommodation for individual cattle. No less important is the proper sanitation, durability and arrangements for the production of clean milk under convenient and economic conditions, etc.

Location of dairy buildings

The points which should be considered before the erection of dairy buildings are as follows.

Topography and Drainage

  • A dairy building should be at a higher elevation than the surrounding ground to offer a good slope for rainfall and drainage for the wastes of the dairy to avoid stagnation within.
  • A leveled area requires less site preparation and thus lesser cost of building.
  • Low lands and depressions and proximity to places of bad odor should be avoided.

Soil Type

  • Fertile soil should be spared for cultivation.
  • Foundation soils as far as possible should not be too dehydrated or desiccated.
  • Such a soil is susceptible to considerable swelling during rainy season and exhibit numerous cracks and fissures.

Exposure to the sun and protection from wind

  • A dairy building should be located to a maximum exposure to the sun in the north and minimum exposure to the sun in the south and protection from prevailing strong wind currents whether hot or cold.
  • Buildings should be placed so that direct sunlight can reach the platforms, gutters and mangers in the cattle shed.
  • As far as possible, the long axis of the dairy barns should be set in the north-south direction to have the maximum benefit of the sun.


  • Easy accessibility to the buildings is always desirable.
  • Situation of a cattle shed by the side of the main road preferably at a distance of about 100 meters should be aimed at.

Durability and attractiveness

  • It is always attractive when the buildings open up to a scenic view and add to the grandeur of the scenery. Along with this, durability of the structure is obviously an important criterion in building dairy

Water supply

  • Abundant supply of fresh, clean and soft water should .be available at a cheap rate.


  • Areas infested with wild animals and dacoits should be avoided.
  • Narrow gates, high manger curbs, loose hinges, protruding nails, smooth finished floor in the areas where the cows move and other such hazards should be eliminated.


  • Honest, economic and regular supply of labour is available.


  • Dairy buildings should only be in those areas from where the owner can sell his products profitably and regularly.
  • He should be in a position to satisfy the needs of the farm within no time and at reasonable price.


  • Electricity is the most important sanitary method of lighting a dairy.
  • Since a modem dairy always handles electric equipment’s which are also economical, it is desirable to have an adequate supply of electricity.

Facilities, Labour, Food

Cattle yards should be so constructed and situated in relation to feed storages, hay stacks, silo and manure pits as to affect the most efficient utilization of labour. Sufficient space per cow and well-arranged feeding mangers and resting are contributing not only to greater milk yield of cows and make the work of the operator easier also minimizes feed expenses. The relative position of the feed stores should be quite adjacent to the cattle barn. Note : Worthy features of feed stores are given:

  • Feed storages should be located at hand near the center of the cow barn.
  • Milk-house should be located almost at the center of the barn.
  • Centre cross-alley should be well designed with reference to feed storage, the stall area and the milk house.

Types of Housing

The most widely prevalent practice in our country is to tie the cows with rope on a Katcha floor except some organized dairy farms belonging to government, co-operatives or military where proper housing facilities exist. It is quite easy to understand that unless cattle are providing with good housing facilities, the animals will move too far in or out of the standing space, defecating all round and even causing trampling and wasting of feed by stepping into the mangers. The animals will be exposed to extreme weather conditions all leading to bad health and lower production. Dairy cattle may be successfully housed under a wide variety of conditions, ranging from close confinement to little restrictions except at milking time. However, two types of dairy barns are in general use at the present time.

  • The loose housing barn in combination with some type of milking barn or parlor.
  • The conventional dairy barn.

Loose Housing System

  • Loose housing may be defined as a system where animals are kept loose except milking and at the time of treatment. The system is most economical. Some features of loose housing system are as follows.
  • Cost of construction is significantly lower than conventional type.
  • It is possible to make further expansion without change
  • Facilitate easy detection of animal in heat.
  • Animals feel free and therefore, proves more profitable with even minimum grazing
  • Animals get optimum excise which is extremely important for better health production.
  • Over all better management can be rendered.

Cattle Shed

  • The entire shed should be surrounded by a boundary wall of. 5" height from three side and manger etc., on one side. The feeding area should be provided with 2 to 2 ½ feet of manger space per cow. All along the manger, there shall be 10" wide water trough to provide clean, even, available drinking water.
  • The water trough thus constructed will also minimize the loss of fodders during feeding. Near the manger, under the roofed house 5' wide floor should be paved with bricks having a little slope.
  • Beyond that, there should be open unpaved area (40'X35') surrounded by 5' wall with one gate. It is preferable that animals face north when they are eating fodder under the shade. During cold wind in winter the animals will automatically lie down to have the protection from the walls.
cattle shed

Cattle Shed

Shed for calves

  • On one side of the main cattle shed there be fully covered shed "10'x15' to accommodate young calves. Such sheds with suitable partitioning, may also serve as calving pen under adverse climatic conditions. Beyond this covered area there should be a 20'x10' open area having boundary wall so that calves may move there freely.
  • In this way both calf and cattle sheds will need in all 50'x50' area for 20 adult cows and followers. If one has limited resources, he can build ordinary, Katcha/semikatcha boundary walls but feeding and water trough should be cemented ones.
shed for calves

Shed for calves

Conventional Dairy Barn

  • The conventional dairy barns are comparatively costly and are now becoming less popular day by day. However, by this system cattle are more protected from adverse climatic condition.
  • The following barns are generally needed for proper housing of different classes

Dairy Stock in the Farm

  • Cow houses or sheds
  • Calving box
  • Isolation box
  • Sheds for young stocks
  • Bull or bullock sheds

Cow Sheds

  • Cow sheds can be arranged in a single row if the numbers of cows are small.
  • Say less than 10 or in a double row if the herd is a large one.
  • Ordinarily, not more than 80 to 100 cows should be placed in one building.
  • In double row housing, the stable should be so arranged that the cows face out (tails to tail system) or face in (head to head system) as preferred.

Advantages of tail to tail system

  • Under the average conditions, 125 to 150 man hours of labour are required per cow per year. Study of time: Time motion studies in dairies showed that 40% of the expended time is spent in front of the cow, and 25% in other parts of the barn and the milk house, and 60% of the time is spent behind the cows. Time spent at the back of the cows is 4 times more than the time spent in front of them.
  • In cleaning and milking the cows, the wide middle alley is of great advantage.
  • Lesser danger of spread of diseases from animal to animal.
  • Cows can always get more fresh air from outside.
  • The head gowala can inspect a greater number of milkmen while milking. This is possible because milkmen will be milking on both sides of the gowala.
  • Any sort of minor disease or any change in the hind quarters of the animals can be detected quickly and even automatically.

tail to tail system

Tail to tail system

Advantages of face to face system

  • Cows make a better showing for visitors when heads are together
  • The cows feel easier to get into their stalls.
  • Sun rays shine in the gutter where they are needed most.
  • Feeding of cows is easier, both rows can be fed without back tracking.
  • It is better for narrow barns.

face to face system

Face to face system


  • The inside floor of the barn should be of some impervious material which can be easily kept clean and dry and is not slippery.
  • Paving with bricks can also serve ones purpose. Grooved cement concrete floor is still better.
  • The surface of the cowshed should be laid with a gradient of 1" to 1.25" from manger to excreta channel. An overall floor space of 65 to 70 sq.feets. Per adult cow should be satisfactory.


  • The inside of the walls should have a smooth hard· finish of cement, which will not allow any lodgment of dust and moisture.
  • Comers should be round.
  • For plains, dwarf walls about 4 to 5 feet in height and roofs supported by masonry work or iron pillars will be best or more suitable.
  • The open space in between supporting pillars will serve for light and air circulation.


  • Roof of the barn may be of asbestos sheet or tiles.
  • Corrugated iron sheets have the disadvantage of making extreme fluctuations in the inside temperature of the barn in different seasons.
  • However, iron sheets with aluminum painted tops to reflect sun rays and bottoms provided with wooden insulated ceilings can also achieve the objective.
  • A height of 8 feet at the sides and 15 feet at the ridge will be sufficient to give the necessary air space to the cows.
  • An adult cow requires at least about 800 cubic feet of air space under tropical conditions.
  • To make ventilation more effective a continuous ridge ventilation is considered most desirable.


  • Cement concrete continuous manger with removable partitions is the best from the point of view of durability and cleanliness.
  • A height of 1'-4" for a high front manger and 6" to 9" for a low front manger is considered sufficient. Low front mangers are more comfortable for cattle but high front mangers prevent feed wastage.
  • The height at the back of the manger should be kept at 2'-6" to 3".
  • An overall width of 2' to 2.5' is sufficient for a good manger.


  • The central walk should have a width of 5'-6' exclusive of gutters when cows face out, and 4'-5' when they face in.
  • The feed alley, in case of a face out system should be 4' wide, and the central walk should show a slope of 1" from the center towards the two gutters running parallel to each other, thus forming a crown at the center.

Manure Gutter

  • The manure gutter should be wide enough to hold all dung without getting blocked, and be easy to clean/ Suitable dimensions are 2" width with a cross-fall of 1" away from standing.
  • The gutter should have a gradient of 1" for every 10' length.
  • This will permit a free flow of liquid excreta.


  • The doors of a single range cowshed should be 5" wide with a height of 7', and for double row shed the width should not be less than 8" to 9'.
  • All doors of the barn should lie flat against the external wall when fully open.

Calving Boxes

  • Allowing cows to calve in the milking cowshed is highly undesirable and objectionable.
  • It leads to in sanitary in milk production and spread of disease like contagious abortion in the herd. Special accommodation in the form of loose-boxes enclosed from all sides with a door should be furnished to all parturient cows.
  • It should have an area of about 100 to 150 sq.ft.
  • With ample soft bedding, it should be provided with sufficient ventilation through windows and ridge vent.

Isolation Boxes

  • Animals suffering from infectious disease must be segregated soon from the rest of the herd.
  • Loose boxes of about 150 sq. feet. are very suitable for this purpose.
  • They sh9uld be situated at some distance from the other barns.
  • Every isolation box should be self-contained and should have separate connection to the drainage disposal system.

Sheds For Young Stocks

  • Calves should never be accommodated with adults in the cow shed.
  • The calf house must have provision for daylight ventilation and proper drainage.
  • Damp and ill-drained floors cause respiratory trouble in calves to which they are susceptible.
  • For an efficient management and housing, the young stock should be divided into three groups, viz., young calves aged tip to one year bull calves, female calves.
  • Each group should be sheltered in a separate calf house or calf shed.
  • As far as possible the shed for the young calves should be quite close to the cow shed.
  • Each calf shed should have an open paddock or exercise yard.
  • An area of 100 square feet per head for a stock of 10 calves and an increase of 50 square feet for every additional calf will make a good paddock.
  • It is useful to classify the calves below one year into three age groups, viz., and calves below the age of 3 months, 3-6 months old calves and those over 6 months for a better allocation of the resting area.
  • An overall covered space of:
  • 20-25 square feet per calf below the age of 3 months,
  • 25 -30 square feet per calf from the age of 3-6 months,
  • 30-40 square feet per calf from the age of 6-12 months and over, and
  • 40-45 square feet for every calf above one year, should be made available for the sheltering such climatic conditions. A suitable· interior lay-out of a calf shed will be to arrange the standing space along each side of a 4 feet wide central passage having a shallow gutter along its length on both sides. Provision of water troughs inside each calf shed and exercise yard should never be neglected.

Bull or Bullock Shed

  • Safety and ease in handling a comfortable shed protection from weather and a provision for exercise are the key points while planning accommodation for bulls or bullocks.
  • A bull should never be kept in confinement particularly on hard floors.
  • Such a confinement without adequate exercise leads to overgrowth of the hoofs creating difficulty in mounting and loss in the breeding power of the bull.
  • A loose box with rough cement concrete floor about 15' by 10' in dimensions having an adequate arrangement of light and ventilation and an entrance 4' in width and 7' in height will make a comfortable housing for a bull.
  • The shed should have a manger and a water trough.
  • If possible, the arrangement should be such that water and feed can be served without actually entering the bull house.
  • The bull should have a free access to an exercise yard provided with a strong fence or a boundary wall of about 2' in height, i.e., too high for the bull to jump over.
  • From the bull yard, the bull should be able to view the other animals of the herd so that it does not feel isolated.
  • The exercise yard should also communicate with a service crate via a swing gate which saves the use of an attendant to bring the bull to the service crate.

Cleaning of animal sheds

  • The easy and quick method of cleaning animal house is with liberal use of tap water, proper lifting and disposes all of dung and used straw bedding, providing drainage, to the animal house for complete removal of liquid waste and urine.
  • The daily removal of feed and fodder left over in the manger, reduces the fly nuisance.
  • Periodical cleaning of water through eliminates the growth of algae, bacterial and viral contamination and thus keeps the animal healthy.

Sanitation in dairy farm

  • Sanitation is necessary in the dairy farm houses for eliminations of all microorganisms that are capable of causing disease in the animals.
  • The presence of organisms in the animal shed contaminates the milk produced thus reducing its self-life, milk produced in an unclean environment is likely to transmit diseases which affect human health: Dry floorings keeps the houses dry and protects from foot injury.
  • Similarly, the presence of flies and other insects in the dairy farm area are not only, disturbs the animals but also spreads deadly diseases to the animal’s egg. Babesiosis, Theileriosis.


  • Sunlight is the most potent and powerful sanitizer which destroy most of the disease producing organism. Disinfection of animal sheds means making these free from disease producing bacteria and is mainly-carried out by sprinkling chemical agents such as bleaching powder, Iodine and lodophor, sodium carbonate, Washing soda, Slaked Lime (Calcium hydroxide), Quick Lime (Calcium oxide) and phenol.
    • Bleaching Powder - This is also called calcium hypo chloride. It contains upto 39 % available chlorine which has high disinfecting activity.
    • Iodine and Lodophor - This is commercially available as lodophores and contains between 1 and 2 % available Iodine which is an effective germicide.
    • Sodium Carbonate - A hot 4 % solution of washing soda is a powerful disinfectant against many viruses and certain bacteria.
    • Slaked Lime and Quick Lime - White washing with these agents makes the walls of the sheds and the water troughs free from bacteria.
    • Phenol - Phenol or carbolic acid is very disinfectants which destroy bacteria as well as fungus.


  • Insecticides are the substances or preparations used for killing insects.
  • In dairy farms, ticks usually hide in cracks and crevices of the walls and mangers.
  • Smaller quantities of insecticide solutions are required for spraying.
  • Liquid insecticides can be applied with a powerful sprayer, hand sprayer, a sponge or brush; commonly used insecticides are DDT, Gramaxane wettable powders, malathion, Sevin 50 % emulsifying concentration solutions.
  • These are highly poisonous and need to be handled carefully and should not come in contact with food material, drinking, water, milk etc.

Precautions while using disinfection in insecticide

  • Remove dung and used bedding completely.
  • Avoid spilling of dung and used bedding while carrying it out.
  • Avoid the use of dirty water in cleaning the sheds.
  • Never put the fresh fodder over: the previous day’s left over fodder in the manger.
  • Prevent algae to grow in the water troughs
  • Use proper concentration of disinfectant / insecticide solutions to avoid any toxic effects poisoning.
  • Avoid of the mat the milking time as milk absorbs these quickly.

Procedure for cleaning

  • Remove the dung from the floor and urine channel with the help of a shovel and basket (iron) and transfer it to the wheel - barrow.
  • Remove the used bedding and leftovers from the mangers in a similar way.
  • Empty the water trough and scrape its sides and bottom with the help of a floor brush.
  • Wash the water trough with clean water and white wash it with the help of lime mixture once a week.
  • Scrape the floor with a brush and broom and wash with water.
  • Clean and disinfect the splashes of dung on the side walls, railing and stanchions.
  • Remove the cobwebs periodically with the help of a wall brush.
  • Sprinkle one of the available disinfecting agents in the following concentration. Bleaching powder should have more than 30% available chlorine. Phenol 1-2% solution. Washing Soda (4% solution).
  • Allow adequate sunlight to enter in to the shed.
  • Spray insecticides at regular intervals especially during the rainy season (Fly season).
  • Whitewash the walls periodically by mixing insecticides in it to eliminate ticks and mites living in cracks and crevices.

Other provisions

  • The animal sheds should have proper facilities for milking barns, calf pens, calving pens and arrangement for store rooms etc.
  • In each shed, there should be arrangement for feeding manger, drinking area and loafing area.
  • The shed may be cemented or brick paved, but in any case, it should be easy to clean.
  • The floor should be rough, so that animals will not slip. The drains in the shed should be shallow and preferably covered with removable tiles.
  • The drain should have a gradient of 1" for every 10" length.
  • The roof may be of corrugated cement sheet, asbestos or brick and rafters.
  • Cement concrete roofing is too expensive. Inside the open unpaved area it is always desirable to plant some good shady trees for excellent protection against direct cold winds in winter and to keep cool in summer.

Source : Pashu sakhi Handbook

जोबथा दाफामनाय : 7/3/2023

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