Bedded Pack Close Up Dry Cow and Calving Pens
Many dairy herds are looking to provide separate housing for close up dry cows to facilitate feeding a separate ration and to provide low stress, high comfort housing in this critical period. Ideally, the selected area should also result in easy observation, and convenient feed and manure handling. Although the bedded pack pen can handle an unexpected calving quite handily, it is preferable to include a convenient segregation pen for calving cows. The bedded pack and scrape alley illustrated in Fig. 1, fits in well beside a two or three row free stall area in a typical barn. The pack should provide 80 to 100 square feet of resting area per cow. The gating arrangement shown, permits segregation of a small area for one calving cow or a larger area when several cows are due, by repositioning gate "B". Access to the manger from the calving pen, an issue with alley scrapers which may injure newborns, can also be regulated with gate "A". A head lock, "C", of the style used on a squeeze and full rotation of gate "A" allow for restraint of the cow in the calving pen. If gate "A" is constructed with a hinged panel and vacuum is available, nervous heifers can be restrained for milking if necessary. As shown in Fig. 7, the sand or gravel floor in the bedded area can be kept 10 to 12 inches lower to allow for more build up of the pack. Gate posts with multiple hinges, or other means of adjusting the height may be preferred if the pack is allowed to build up. A sand or gravel base is desired to provide good footing in the period when there is no depth to the pack. In Ontario, a concrete floor or liner is required below the sand or gravel layer when the subsoil has a saturated hydraulic conductivity greater than 1 x 10-8. Man passes "D" in one of the gates and at the manger will permit easier access to the pen. These pens can be bedded with shavings or straw and will stay cleaner if daily maintenance includes throwing manure pads off the pack onto the alley.
Figure 1: Bedded pack close up and calving area
Figures 2 through 7: Various barn configurations using bedded calving pens
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