Type and Systems of Housing for Dairy Animals

Mainly there are two systems of housing for cattle

Each system has its own advantages and limitations. The final decision can be based upon the climatic variables air temperature, rain etc. in a particular area.  In loose housing, animals are usually kept loose in a open paddock in group of 40-50 throughout the day and night except during milking and some other specific purposes like treatment, breeding etc., when the animals are required to be tied. This housing system generally provides continuous manger along with covered standing space, open paddock which is enclosed by brick wall or railing and common water trough. A separate structure of calf pens, milking byres, calving pens, bull pens etc., are required for this system.  Thus keeping in view the cost of buildings and the investment required a loose housing system may be desirable. Such system is ideal for areas of low rainfall such as Punjab, Haryana Rajasthan, Western U.P. and parts of Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.  Even at other places this system can be used after making small modifications so as to protect animals from excessive rains.  Such houses are cheaper to construct, easier to expand at short notice, more congenial to efficient management, less prone to fire hazards to animals and helps cleaner milk production as a special milking barn/parlour is attached. On the other hand in the conventional closed system there is greater protection during winter season but proportionally the cost is very high.  As a matter of fact detailed studies have not been made on the loose housing system so far and its superiority over the conventional system cannot be judged. However in view of the cost of buildings and the investment required a loose housing system may be more desirable.

The loose housing system however, may not be wholly suitable for all agro-climatic zones in India. The climate of India varies from region to region. Housing of the cattle is therefore to be planned and designed as per the agro-climatic conditions prevailing in a particular area. There are some lacunae in the loose housing system for replication under different agro ecological regions which can be modified to suit requirement for different regions of the country.

Heavy rainfall areas

The design of typical loose housing structure for the adult animals would be similar to general loose housing system except additional provision of covered resting area in one side of the paddock which will provide sufficient dry area for the animals during rainfall and provide protection against strong wind.  The floor of the resting area should be slightly elevated from open paddock and one side should be closed with brick wall which will work as wind break. 

Hot dry areas

The suitable design of loose housing structure for hot dry area could consider covered resting area in the middle of the open paddock with thick tree shade. This would provide indirect shaded area for animals during hot sunny day which saves the animals from direct solar radiation. All the sides of the resting area should be left open to facilitate free air passage.

Temperate high altitude areas

In temperate area, partially loose housing along with the closed conventional system of housing is desirable. In this system due attention is given to protect animal from heavy snow fall, rain and strong wind.  Tail to tail system of conventional barn, completely roofed and enclosed with side wall is suggested with adequate provision of tying, feeding, watering and milking inside of the barn. Open paddock area with continuous manger in one side along with covered standing space is provided attached to the barn for housing during warm/comfortable weather. In addition, the following important aspects also need adequate attention while deciding about the housing structure for dairy animals.