Letter from Europe: Back to the straw-bedded barn for dairy cows?


What’s the best housing system for dairy cattle? This is the subject of arguments you’ll hear raging in just about every country bar in Europe’s milk production regions.

While stalls or free stalls have definitely won over a huge majority, there’s still a staunch rearguard fighting for simple straw-bedded barns. In fact, a paper by the respected Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) indicates that there’s a swing back to this for milking herds in that country.

Where there’s plenty of room per cow – and the recommended minimum is 4.25 square metres of bedded area for a 500-kilogram animal – foot and leg problems and general cow health are claimed to be much better in simple straw barns than those with stall systems.

Better Farming - December 2008