Dr. Jeffrey Bewley - Freestall Barn Mistakes

As a seasoned Dairy Housing and Analytics Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Bewley knows dairy cows. He specializes in freestall barn construction, management, and modernization, among other areas, and he’s passionate about cow comfort housing.

Avoiding Critical Mistakes

Freestall barns provide clean, dry, comfortable places for dairy cows to rest, improving their health and daily performance. In a freestall barn, cows are not tethered, and they’re able to come and go for food, water, and rest as they please. 

According to Dr. Jeffrey Bewley, avoiding mistakes like these can save money while keeping your cows happier:

  • Deciding Stall Dimensions Without Knowing Cow Size

A milking herd can have cows ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 pounds, and stall size needs to be adjusted accordingly. Select freestall dimensions based on your largest cows, otherwise your stalls might only be big enough for half of your herd.

  • Improper Neck Rail Positioning

Neck rails encourage a cow to position itself properly in the stall. They encourage the cow to step back as she rises, limiting the amount of urine and feces that falls in the stall. Placing them too far back can make the stall uncomfortable for the cow, decreasing stall usage.

  • Mounting Freestall Loops n Horizontal Pipe

It’s tempting to mount your freestall dividers on horizontal pipes to cut costs, but this can block the cows' forward lunge range. You must install each divider on vertical posts. You can, however, save money by mounting freestall dividers on both sides of a post in head-to-head setups.

Jeffrey Bewley : 3 Keys to A Successful Compost-Bedded Pack Barn

As a management consultant at CowFocused Housing, Dr. Jeffrey Bewley understands the value a comfortable, cow-friendly environment can have in terms of dairy farm production and profitability.

And as an expert in cow-focused barn designs and construction, Dr. Bewley knows the compost-bedded pack barn to be one of the most effective systems for maximizing cow comfort—not to mention reducing rates of disease, improving health and creating a more efficient dairy operation.

But to ensure you’re managing a successful compost-bedded pack barn environment—one capable of producing high rates of quality milk daily—Dr. Jeffrey Bewley recommends focusing on three crucial elements before, during and after facility construction.

These include:

Proper Design and Placement

Before constructing your compost-bedded pack facility, Dr. Bewley suggests selecting a site that maximizes barn ventilation. Depending on where you’re located, an east-west orientation may be the best way to achieve this quality. A location that is slightly elevated, and that contains a concrete or clay base, is also highly recommended.

When designing your barn, it’s also important to create a space ideal for maximizing the number of cows you can milk at one time. Your structure should provide space for water and food away from the pack—and should provide multiple, narrow entryways as opposed to one large entrance.

Adequate Spacing

As you’re constructing your barn, Dr. Jeffrey Bewley recommends providing a minimum of 100 sq. ft. per cow. This is crucial to maximum comfort and to avoiding an overcrowded, higher-risk environment.

Frequent Stirring

The compost-bedded pack—which generally consists of sawdust or dry wood shavings with manure—should be stirred (aerated) at least twice a day, and at least between 10 and 12 inches deep, says Dr. Bewley. Also, new bedding (2-8 inches) should be added when the pack begins to get damp.

Jeffrey Bewley: Cow Comfort Housing Basics

Jeffrey Bewley is a Dairy Housing and Analytics Specialist with Alltech who has over two decades of professional experience. He’s been working in the dairy industry since 1989, and he’s passionate about his field.

Presently, he also works as a Consultant with CowFocused Housing in Kentucky. Cow comfort housing is among his primary areas of focus, and he has earned a positive reputation for his success in dairy housing projects.

If you were to ask a specialist like Jeffrey Bewley for tips on cow comfort housing, they’d probably start by outlining the basics,

which are touched on below:

  • Water

Cows should be given access to palatable water for at least twenty-one hours every day for proper hydration.

  • Food

Cows should be given access to palatable and nutritious food for at least twenty-one hours every day for proper nourishment.

  • Air

Cows should live in an environment where the air is clean to avoid lung issues.

  • Light

Cows should be given access to light for eighteen hours per day, with at least six hours of darkness each day.

  • Rest

Cows should be given a dry space to lie down in for at least twelve hours per day.

  • Space

Cows should have enough space to walk to their feeding and watering areas without fear, obstruction or injury.

When a specialist like Jeffrey Bewley works with a dairy farm, they cover the basics above with further focus on daily time budgets for the cattle to ensure productivity and health.

Source: https://www.dairyherd.com/article/cow-comfort-back-basics