Shelter Design and Housing Structure


Proper and sufficient slope in the paddock is very important for maintaining clean and dry sheds. The slope in the open paddock should be 1: 60 for effective drainage of rain water. The slope of the standing space shall be 1: 40.

The slope in the drain should be 1 in 40. There should be shallow drain in open paddock for complete drainage of rain water. The common drain of the dairy farm should be sufficient sloped and with optimum width for effective drainage of dairy washing etc. Open drain in dairy farm is preferable than closed underground drain which develops frequent blockade.


The milking cows and milking buffalo sheds should preferably be a double roofed structure with a separate roof over the middle gallery (feeding passage). This roof will cover at least 6-8 feet on either side of the midrib which will be 16-18 feet in height and will slant towards the edges. The standing space on the either sides will have separate roof which will have a gap of about 1 foot to facilitate smoother passage of the air and to provide better ventilation and lighting.  The roof will have a height of at least 15 feet towards the midrib and 12 feet at eaves of projection and will cover 12 feet on either side. These roofs are to be supported on pillars, which can be built of cement mortar, cast iron pipes or hard wooden posts. A provision for fan with mist cooling could be installed to protect the animals from severe heat stress during summer months. For protecting the animals from cold stress during winter providing wind breaks on the windward side which could be considered with provision for comfortable bedding material such as tree leaves/ rubber mats or surplus/ soiled paddy straw etc.  

The roofs of the calf shed, heifer’s shed and dry cows and dry buffaloes shed shall be of asbestos sheets and shall be constructed at a height of 12-14 feet above the floor level. The pitch of these roofs should be 12 degree to 18 degree with their horizontals. The eaves of the roofs should project out at least 50 cm away from the walls / pillars. These roofs are to be supported on pillars which can be built of cement mortar, cast iron pipes or hard wooden posts.


The floors under the roofed area of milking cows and buffaloes shed, calf shed, heifers shed, dry cows & dry buffalo sheds should be made of RCC or paved with cement concrete flooring tiles. The surfaces of RCC floors should be made rough and non-slippery by making grooves with the impression of a piece of expanded metal or suitable wire mesh on the surface while the concrete is still moist. The grooves shall be formed in square of 15 X 15 cm for adult cows & buffaloes shed and in squares of 10 X 10 cm for the calf shed. The floors should have a gradient of 1 in 40 towards the drains. The U shaped drains of 30 cm width and 6 to 8 cm depth should be provided at the ends of covered area. The slope of the drains shall be 1 in 100 and it shall lead through two settling chambers to the septic tank constructed with a length, width and depth of 5, 5 and 10 feet respectively. About one half to one third of the open area towards the other end of the milking cows & buffaloes paddocks, calf’s paddock, heifer’s paddock and dry cows and dry buffaloes paddocks should preferably be katcha or sand bedded and the remaining one half to two thirds should be brick paved. The floors of the straw store, chaff cutter shed and implements room may be brick paved whereas the floors of the milk storage and feed grinding, mixing-cum-storage room should be made of RCC. 


The covered areas and the open areas of the milking cows & buffaloes shed, calves shed, heifers shed and the dry cows & buffaloes shed should be enclosed by 5 feet high brick walls which are 22.5 cm thick. The height of walls along with which mangers have been constructed inside the sheds shall be 3 feet so as to allow for comfortable feeding from outside the sheds.  The walls of milking cows and milking buffalo paddocks should have 10 feet wide centrally placed gates opening towards the road and the walls of calf shed, heifer sheds and dry cows & dry buffaloes sheds should have 6 feet wide centrally placed gates opening towards the road. The gates should be made of iron or strong wood. The height of straw store walls should be 20 feet. The covered part of the calf pen / shed should have walls on three sides up to the roof with door in the wall facing the open area. The fourth side (behind the manger) may be left open in summers and a tarpaulin curtain may be hanged from the roof in winters. During winter nights calves can be folded into this room and the doors closed. During daytime the calves can move through the opened doors into the open area to have the benefit of sunshine.

Boundary wall/fence and gates

The boundary wall/ fencing material should be cheap and locally available. The effective height of the outer boundary wall for calf and adult may be 1.2 meter and 1.5 meters respectively. The boundary may be made by brick wall or iron railing. The provision of suitable size gates is also to be made in the boundary wall. The gates in a dairy farm vary in size. The width of the gate leading from sheds to sheds to be about 1.0 to 1.2 meters.  The gate which leads from paddock to road is to be 2.5 meter.  The main gate of the farm premises should be bigger in width i.e. 5.5 to 6 meters for easy entrance and exit of tractors, trolleys and other heavy vehicles.

Orientation of shelter

Shelter provides protection to the animals from various climatic extremes i.e., rainfall, hot and cold weather, wind, snow, frost etc. The orientation of shelter is to be such, so that it can give maximum protection to the animals. In coastal area, the sheds shall be oriented across the prevailing wind direction in order to protect the roof from being blown off by high wind at the same time to provide sufficient air movement in the shed. In humid region, building should be so sited as to avail the natural aeration and sunlight of the structure shall be east to west in coastal area and North to South in the dry hot area.

The following ancillary structures must also be provided.

Bull pens

A bull pen should have a shaded resting area of 12 to 15 m² and a large exercise area of 20 to 30 m². The walls of the pen must be strong and at least 1.5m in height. The gate must be designed so that the bull cannot lift it off its hinges and there should be at least two exits where the herdsman can escape. A service stall where the cow can be tied prior to and during service is also to be provided close to the bull pen in case of natural service.

Calf pens

Calves are best housed individually in pens or in raised cages having slatted floors. The minimum internal dimensions for an individual calf pen are 1200 by 800 mm for a pen where the calf is kept to two weeks of age, 1200 by l000 mm where the calf is kept to 6 to 8 weeks of age and 1500 by 1 200mm where the calf is kept from 6 to 14 weeks of age. The front of the pen should be made so that the calf can be fed milk, concentrates and water easily from buckets or a trough fixed to the outside of the pen and so that the calf can be moved out of the pen without lifting. The calf should be given fresh, clean water daily or preferably has continuous access to water in a drinking nipple. The calves should have access to good quality forage as soon as possible to stimulate rumen development.

Mangers and water troughs  

The mangers should be constructed along the side wall in the covered area. The water troughs can be constructed along the partition walls of different sheds outside covered area. The mangers and water troughs can be made of bricks lined with cement concrete. The inner surfaces of the mangers and water troughs should be rounded off and finished smooth and the tops of walls should be arched. The water troughs should be provided with railing on its sides so that the animals may not try to step in the water trough and contaminate it. The space requirements and dimensions of the mangers and water troughs should be as given below.


Sr. No Type of animal manger space per animal (cm) Water trough space/ animal (cm) Mode of housing
1 Young calves (< 8 weeks) 40- 50 10-15 Individual or in groups of below 5
2 Older calves (> 8 wks) 40-50 10-15 Groups of below 15
3 Heifers 45-60 30-45 Groups of below 25
4 Adult cows 60-75 45-60 Groups of below 25
5 Adult Buffaloes 60-75 60-75 Groups of below 25-30
6 Down calvers 60-75 60-75 Individual
7 Bulls 60-75 60-75 Individual
8 Bullocks 60-75 60-75 Pairs