Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Barns & Equipment

Whether using a tiestall, freestall, dry lot or pasture, here are some tips for cow comfort and maintaining farm facilities and equipment.


Why is cow cooling important?

Cooling dairy cows is important for several reasons. Cows enjoy temperatures in the range of about 40°F to 68°F. At temperatures above this range, cows use more energy to get rid of the excess heat. To get this additional energy, the cow must either eat more feed, use less energy for milk production or reproduction or convert body fat reserves to energy.

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Cavitation is called the cancer of the hydraulic system. Like cancer in humans, it can be a silent killer of your system by eating away at the hydraulic pump and other parts of the system.

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Milking equipment cleanliness and proper functionality play a big role in achieving peak milk quality. Often when producers attempt to correct problems related to high standard plate count (SPC) or protein, fat and mineral buildup in their pipeline and inflations, they find a variety of issues to blame. Such was the case with a Progressive Dairyman reader who wrote to us in search of answers.

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Are you doing the “little things” at your dairy to take your bulk tank from 70 to 80, 80 to 90, or 90 to 95 pounds of high-quality milk per cow per day?

Cows and their environment

Milk quality starts with providing a clean, dry, comfortable environment. When was the last time you did a cow comfort audit? When was the last time you stopped, looked and listened to your cows in their resting place? While spending time watching and listening to your cows get up in the stalls, do we see cows standing idle (standing with all four feet in the stall)? Do we see cows “perching” (two feet in the stall and two feet in the alley) or cows lying diagonally in the stall? A cow comfort audit should include an assessment of the facility for meeting the behavioral and safety needs of the cow, including signs of injury, lameness or behavioral abnormalities.

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Schlund photo

A dairyman in the Magic Valley, Idaho, came up to me and asked if he was right in thinking he could replace his broken steel line with proper rubber hydraulic hoses. He had a steel line break, and it was going to take him a week to get the part in. He couldn’t afford to have the machinery out of commission for that long.

I told him he was correct. Rubber hydraulic hoses can replace steel hoses, but there are some things to consider.

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Fan photo

For the past 18 months, “tighten your belts” has been the theme of hundreds of articles, conversations and presentations. At the same time a major trend around the world is to reduce energy consumption and find ways to be more efficient. There is a solution to cow comfort that actually accomplishes both of these concepts.

Bob and Gary Marchy of Ceres, California, have installed 16 new 72-inch Cyclone fans, created by Ventec Environmental Solutions, in their 680-foot-long freestall barn. The dairy converted to a freestall system from an open lot system in 2008. Now they are trying to make the cows even more comfortable in the freestall by adding these new fans.

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