Cow Comfort Comes First in Dairy Barns
Barns come in all shapes and sizes, from little red ones to big open styles. So how do dairy farmers decide which barns to build? They consider cow comfort.
On Jessica Folkema’s dairy in Michigan, freestall barns are the best fit for their cows. Freestall barns are long and rectangular with open sides, which provides plenty of space for the cows to move around, or lie down and relax in sand bed stalls.
“[We like] freestall barns because they keep cows comfortable in Michigan’s changing seasons,” Folkema said.
Folkema met her husband in college and by the time the two had fallen in love, her future husband had decided to become a full-time dairy farmer. In the time since, Folkema continues to learn everything about dairying – including understanding the style of barns she and her husband use to house their cows.
When the couple recently added on to one of their barns, they included a number of features to make their cows more comfortable. For example, they added a new ceiling vent, which allows hot air to rise and naturally pulls in fresh air from the barn’s open sides.
“We’ve actually noticed that cows prefer to hang out in the new half [of the barn], likely due to better ventilation,” Folkema said.
Their barn also features fans and sprinklers to keep their cows cool, and grooved concrete flooring, which gives their cows more traction when they move around.
And how did the cows feel once they entered their expanded barn?