Module 7. Systems of housing

Lesson 11

11.1 Introduction

Animal Housing is required to protect the animals from inclement weather, provide clean, comfortable stay for good health of animals and for efficient management. Inadequate and improper planning results in additional labour charges and increased costs in maintenance of sheds. Adequate housing to animals is aimed at increased milk production, better labour utilization, better health of animals, disease control, better care and management of animals resulting in production of high quality milk resulting in a remunerative price and better profit of the farm.

Several types of housing are available. The farmer has to select the suitable housing system keeping in view the local environment and economic status. Minimum investment should be put towards housing of animals by utilizing the locally available materials for construction of roof, floor and walls without compromising the comfort of animals.

11.2 Systems of Housing

Different housing system available are loose housing, conventional barn system and free range system. Type of housing should be choosen depending upon the geographical and local conditions with likes and dislikes of the farmer keeping economics in mind. Loose housing system is more suitable to Indian conditions.

11.2.1 Conventional barns

The conventional dairy barns are becoming less popular day by day as they are comparatively costly. Cattle are more protected from adverse climatic condition in conventional barns. These are also called stanchion barns. Animals in this system are confined on a plat-form and secured at neck by stanchions or neck chains or ropes. The cows are fed with fodders, concentrate and as well milked in the barn. The barns are completely roofed and walls are also complete with windows or ventilators at suitable places. Conventional barns are constructed in temperate Himalayan regions, where winter is prolonged and severe.


1. Animals are less exposed to harsh weather conditions.
2. The animals can be kept cleaner and diseases can controlled better in barns.
3. No need to have a separate milking parlour


1. The construction cost of shed is more when compared to loose housing system.

2. Conventional barn system is not suitable to hot and humid climates

3. Not possible for future expansion of shed

11.2.2 Loose housing system

This system comprises of keeping animals loose in an open paddock or pasture throughout the day and night except at milking time. The open paddock is provided with shelter along one side under which the animals stay when it is hot or cold or during rains. A common watering tank and common fodder manger is provided within the shed. Concentrates are fed at time of milking in a separate milking barn. The open paddock is enclosed by half walls & wooden or plain wire fences of suitable height. This type of housing is suitable to most parts of the country except in temperate Himalayan region and heavy rainfall areas. A milking barn or parlour is always to be constructed in which cows are milked at milking time.


  1. The loose houses are cheaper to construct, easier to expand and flexible in utility.
  2. Feeding and management of stock is easier because of common feeding and watering arrangement.
  3. Animals are more comfortable as they move about freely.
  4. At least 10 to 15 percent more stock than the standard can be accommodated for shorter periods without unduly affecting their performance.
  5. Detection of heat in animals is easier.
  6. Animals also get sufficient exercise which is extremely important for better health production.


  1. More floor space is required when compared to conventional barn system
  2. Competition for feed and fodder among animals
  3. Individual animal attention is not possible
  4. Provision for a separate milking barn is needed
  5. Not suitable in heavy rainfall and temperate areas

11.2.3 Free-range system

It comprises of leaving the animals free in a large estate. Free ranges system or ranches indicate a type of stock management rather than a type of housing. The area is generally a natural or cultivated pasture land with watering points and shelter located at convenient places. This type of farming is suited to animals that are not handled daily, such as beef cattle. Big cattle and sheep ranches are quite common in southern parts of America and Australia. In India there is scope for rearing sheep in North Western arid parts and hilly region under ranch system.

11.3 Buildings for Dairy Animals

The different buildings required for Dairy animals can be classified as

1. Essential buildings

2. Ancillary buildings

11.3.1 Essential buildings

These buildings include milking barn, shed for milch/ dry cows, maternity pens, calf sheds, young stock shed, bull shed and sick animal shed. Milking barn

It is fully covered barn in which milch animals are milked and located at central place with all other buildings around it. The length and width of standing space depends on size of animal and range from 1.5 to 1.7 meters in length and 1.05 to 1.2 meters in width. The width of central passage shall be 1.5 to 1.8 meters. Two continuous feed mangers on either side of shed with a 0.75 meter wide feeding alley beyond each manger. A shallow U shaped drain about 20 centimeter wide is located on either side of central passage. The roof of shed should be gabled. The eaves of roof should be at least 50cm away from side walls. Large open spaces may be left on side walls. Milch/ dry animal sheds

The sheds are for housing milch cows and dry cows separately. These are simple sheds comprising a closed area and adjoining open paddock. The covered area should be preferably cement concrete. Brick on edge or stone shed flooring or konkar or moorum flooring can be used for open paddock, brick on edge better one. Maternity pens

Pregnant animals are transferred to maternity pens two to three weeks before date of calving. The number of maternity pens required is about 5% of number of breedable stock. The dimensions are 3x4 meters for covered area and another 3x4 meters for open paddock. Calf sheds

The calf shed are constructed nearer to the milking barn. The dimensions of calf sheds depend on the number of calves to be housed. If large number of calves are present then calves of different age groups should be housed separately for better feeding and management. Young stock shed

Calves from six months of age to one year of age are to be housed separately from suckling calves. Generally all male calves above six months of age are disposed off. Bull shed

The bull shed should be located towards one side of form with one bull for shed. The bull shed can have covered area of 3 x 4 meter with an open paddock 120 Sq. m. One bull is required for every 50 breedable cows in case of natural service.

11.3.2 Ancillary buildings Feed stores

It is required for storing concentrates. There should be one concentrate-cum- feed mixing room at a distant place and a small feed ration room near the milking barn. The feed room must be damp free and rodent proof. The size of the room is based on the assumption that 0.2 meter storage space is required for each adult unit.

Silos: Under Indian conditions trench silos are convenient. It is constructed by excavation in the hard ground and floor and sides are lined with cement concrete or brick or stone slab which are seepage proof. Hay/Straw shed

Shed with walls on three sides are better for storing of Hay / straw. The shed should be away from animal sheds because of fire hazards.

11.4 Floor Space Requirements

Open or paddock areas of sufficient space is provided to cattle and buffaloes in warm regions since these animals lie down during the night. Maximum number of animals housed per pen also determines the comfortness of the animal.

Table 11.1 Floor space requirements for different types of animals

Types of animal

Floor space requirement(m­2)

Maximum number of animals/ pen

Height of the shed (cm)

Covered area

Open area

Cattle and Buffaloes





175 cm in medium and heavy rainfall and 220 in dry areas













Young- calves




Feeding and Watering Space Requirements

A free access and sufficient feeding or watering space must be allocated. The animals should be at comfortable position and with no competition while in activity. Feeding through or manger must accommodate all the animals at a time. Water through must accommodate at least 10% of the stock.

Table 11.2 Feeding and watering

Type of animal

Space/animal (cm)

Total manger length

In a pen for 100 animals (cm)

Total water tank length in a pen for 100 animals (cm)

Adult cattle and buffaloes








11.6 Layout for Dairy Farms

The lay outs are intended to show the size, numbers and locations of different functional units. Each lay out can be planned based on the size of the farm and the economic returns. A dairy farm should preferably start with a small herd and increase the herd strength later on. An entrepreneur/ farmer may modify layout suitable to his location and personal likes and dislikes.

lay out

Fig. 11.1 Layouts for dairy farms

Last modified: Monday, 1 October 2012, 10:33 AM