LESSON 10. Animal Shed or Shelters Dairy Barn

In India, the need for expanding the supplementary and subsidiary foods especially proteins has been increasingly realized in recent years.  The demand for these articles has specially increased and with the rise in income it is likely to increase more rapidly in future.  The prospects of augmenting the supply of milk and milk products, table birds, eggs etc depends on the development of dairy farming and poultry keeping which are an integral part of a sound system of diversified agriculture.  Therefore special emphasis is laid on mixed farming, in which crop production and animal husbandry are dovetailed for efficient and economic utilization of land laboures and capital.   The integration of farming with animal husbandry is essential for the fuller utilization of farm by products maintenance of soil fertility fuller employment ofr agriculturists throughout the year and increase in rural incomes.  Hence for better management and breeding of the farm animals in healthy condition animal shelters are inevitable.

The kindof shelter required for an animal depends upon the kind of animal and the climate condition of the region.  The rapid increase in temperature and extreme temperatures affects the animals.  So to maintain the in properly, a shed is to be provided with a roof.  The space available for each animal should be sufficient to allow free movement so as to maximize the ability to adjust to the environments.  In the case of high velocity wind also, animals are affected and hence to protect them from wind droughts, enclosures is of provided.  The sheds for housing the clarity cows and poultry hers are dealt in detail.

Dairy Barns

When planning a new dairy form, the size and location of barn with relation to the entire farm, the fields, roads, drainage channels, prevailing winds and landscaping are of importance are of importance and should be considered.  The requirements of the dairy cows and calves should also be considered before any construction work is undertaken.  The location of the fodder and feeder storage buildings should be included in the plan.

Milk straining, weighing, cooling and cleaning of the milk utensils require significant of labour and therefore  the location of a well planned milk house should be carefully chosen.  Before a new dairy barn is planned the future expansion of the business should also be considered.  The size of the hard is usually determined on the basis of the total quantity of fodder the farm is capable of producing annually.   Generally, it is economical to produce fodder on the farm and to buy concentrates from the market, and thus are can afford to have a large size hard than if its farm itself had to provide all the feed stuffs.

The dairy barn, when properly located should have a good approach from the highway, as well as from the farm house.  The milk house is best located on a clean, well drained site near the barn, but separated from it by a 6 m long paved passage.  It should face the road and be provided with doors fixed with wire mesh to keep off the flies.   In tropical countries like India, it is better to have enclosed becomes facing in the east west direction.  The location of the feed and fodder stores w.r.r barn should be planned so that the minimum time is spent in taking the supplies to the barn.  The topography of the barn site determines the drainage pattern required.  Drainage should be diverted around the barn by proper grading of the surrounding land.

Besides the natural rainwater, water used in grooming the cows, and cleaning the barn and dairy utensils has to be disposed off.  It is desirable to have paved approaches to the dairy barn, since this prevents stagnation of water and mud formation.  Under these conditions, it is not possible to transport the cow dung from the barn daily, it is desirable to fence an area near the barn of storage of manure.

Types of Dairy Barn

There are three general types of barns.

i) Stanchion barn

ii) The loose housing barn with milking room and

iii) The open air barn

In the  stanchion barn the cows are housed and milled in the some building.  It is also called the general purpose barn of the cow.  The loose housing barn is one in which the cows are housed in a covered or partially covered yard, but they are milked in batches in a special milking house called the milking barlour.  This system is also called the milking house system.  the open air barn does not have any coves.  The cows live in field and they are fed and milked there.  The system is also known as the leafing barn system and is not common on a well established dairy barn.

Stanchion barn is one is which the cow is kept tied in separate stalls and provided with feed.  Each stall consists of a bedding place and feed place so that the cow can be kept in the stall itself at all times.  Stanchion is a frame work made up of pipe or angle iron with an oval shaped adjustable ring kept one end hanging from the frame and the other hinged to the floor.  It shoul0d be wide enough to pin it on easily to the neck to the animal and to lock it.  It should also give facility for the animal to rest and move its neck side ways to reach feed l./ and water. Instead of using oval shaped ring chains are also used to fasten the animals to the stanchion.  For this a strap is around the neck of each animal.

The animals are arranged in rows according to the members to be housed.  In enclosed shelters for more than 8 cows two rows is preferable.  The rows can be arranged so that they may be facing each other known as ‘face in’ arrangement of is the opposite  direction known as ‘face out’ arrangement.  Face in type arrangements will reduce the floor area give facility for cleaning manure to the open sides an is suited mostly for unenclosed barns or for bullodes.  The stalls are separated by a small partition wall usually of concrete to 12.5cm height, with a bent pipe fixed equal to the length of stall for efficiency of management the length of rows should be restricted to have maximum of 10 cows in a row.  If the limit is exuded.

Stall size:  The size of stall depend upon the size and age of animals. Narrow and cramped stall should be avoided, as it restricts the movement of animal resulting in discomfort and even injury to the animal which will affect the milk yield. As the size old cow varies with different breeds, a general space requirement of each type of the basis of its weight is given in the following table

Table .  Dimensions of cow stall

Weight of cow

Girth (per meter)

Stall width

Stall length


















































Mangers :  are feeding structures for the animals. The size of the mangers should be sufficient to hold the feed.  It should, be sufficient to hold the feed.  It should be shaped in a curved form so that no wastage of feed is allowed. The two usual types of mangers adopted are shown in figures.

The low manger known as “sweep in” is simple and easy to construct and it affords facility for quick feeding.  The waste thrown by the animal away from the manger can easily be swept back.  The high front manger, though a bit  difficult and costlier in construction, is still adopted of less wastage by throwing the feet out of mangers.  The usual width of manger varies from 60 cm to 90 cm.  The back of low manger is flush with feeder alley and the back of height front manger is about 70 cm above the feeder alley.

At the foot of manger a stanchion curb of height 12.5 cm is provided to prevent the animal from dragging the feed into the stall.  This curb separate the manger and the stall and provides support for the bottom of stanchion.

Cement concrete tubes of 150-200 liter capacity are provided in between two cows.

Space for pathways: To increase the efficiency of diary management enough space for pathways should be provided for  conveying feed to the manger, milking the cows and removing the manure waste etc.  The pathways provided in a stanchion barn are feed alleys and litter alleys.  Feed alleys are pathways provided between two rows of mangers in case of face in system or pathways between the mangers and side wall in the case of face out system.  the usual space left is 1.2 m so as to allow the conveyance of feed in a push cart.  In the case of big dairy barns the should be wide enough for a farm cart drawn by bullocks or farm tractor.  In the case of face in arrangement no separate litter alley is provided as the sides are not enclosed.  But in face ant arrangement litter alleys are provided for a width of 1.8m to 2.4 m for facility of milking and taking out animals.  Cross alleys are also provided where the number of animal are more to have access from one side to the other without back tracking.

Cutters:  these are provided to convey the animal waste and to drain urine and wash-water to manure pits provided out side the dairy barn.   These are provided by the side of litter alleys and their width varies from 40cm to 45cm and the depth is 15 cm.  A minimum bed slope of 2% should be given for the gutters to drain without any stagnation.

Flooring:  The flooring for dairy barns may be laid either with cement or lime concrete as sub grade, with a meet rough finish on top with c.m.  The stall platforms should be sloped well for maintaining the clean liners.  The top surface of the flooring should not be left smooth as it may cause slipping of animals.  Thread linings. Made on the floor renders grip to the animals.  A toe hold known as toe drain provided at the front of the stall for 1/3 length helps the animals to sit or stand without slipping.

Walls :  Brick or rubble mesory in lime or cement marker can be adopted for enclosing the barn.  The length should be a minimum of 2.4m.  ventilators or opening of 0.37 sqm (4 sq ft) per each cow should be provided to give natural lighting & air.  It climate and environment do not call for enclosures, pillars at 2.4m to 3m apart (8 to 10 ft) can be had to support the roof.

Roofing:  In not regions, tiled roofing can be advantage adopted rather than A.C. sheet or other corrugated sheet roofing, be cause of its less heat radiation.  A.C. sheet can be adopted where the temp is moderate.  Concrete roofing is the best, if the investment in justifiable.  In the case of two rows. Barns, roof trusses of iron or timber should be used, since the width will be more than gm.

Loose housing system :  In this system of housing the milking, feeding and bedding operations are arranged in separate places.  An open exercising yard is also provided in this system.  the labour requirement is less and efficiency of management is more since the milking is done in a small enclosed area and he manure allowed to accumulate in the bedding area to cleared once or twice is an year.  The success of this method is related to the allotment of enough space and shelter.

Feeding shed   This is a covered shed to protect the feed from rain and an area of 3.7 sqm (40 sqft) is recorded for each cow.  Pavement with mangers is betters for keeping the feeding area clean. The space of manger for each cow varies from 67.5 cm to 75 cm.  and the depth should be sufficient to prevent wastage by dragging out of the mangers.  Water tub of 300 litres capacity are provided for every 15 cows in the feeding room.  For feeding shed a lean to root shed with no enclosure on are side is economical and suitable.

Bedding area:  This is also a covered area with an ample space of 6.4 sqm per cow.  The shed room should be a min.  of 3m to allow piling up of manure for 0.9m height.  The bedding area should include separate place for caves at the rate of 2.8 sqm (30 sqft) per cow.

Exercising yard:  This is an open enclosed space to afford free movement of animals to get fresh air and exercise.  The space required for each cow is 9.2 sqm (100 sqft).  This is provided adjoining the bedding area.  The yard should have a slope of 1 in 6 for the first 1.0m width and then 2% slope away from the bedding ara for draining water.

Milking rooms :  The milking room is provided separately where facilities are made for milking a few cows at a time.  This is constructed adjoining the feed room so that other animals can be kept there awaiting their turn to be led to milking.  For providing facility for milking, stalls should be constructed to keep the animals at the floor level or raise above the floor where the operator works.  The level floor stall arrangements are similar to stall barns with space for litter and feeder alleys.  The room is covered on the sides and top to keep it clean.

Stall systems are either floor level, with the platforms at the same level as he floor on which the operator works or elevated with the cow platform from 30” to 36” above the operators (fig) floor level stalls are usually arranged abreast like the stalls in a stall barn.

The cows may walk thro after milking or back at F or one operator the most convenient number of stalls in this arrangement see was to be 6 to 1, for two operators,  8 to 12 or 16 stalls should be provided.

The elevated stall system places to cows at a more convenient and comfortable work height for the operator.  If milk is carried from milking room to milk house, the operators floor should be at the same level as the milk house floor.  The stalls are the a elevate and suitable ramps provided for the cows.

Chute: There are a no of arrangements of stalls suited to the elevated stall system.  the chute type stalls are probably the least expensive to construct, because no wall fot eh cows is necessary and fewer gates need be provided for handing the cows.  However all the cows, in one line must be let in and released at one time.  A slow milker may hold up the line and cause lost time.  Feed boxes that slide out into 1 operators ara permit clean.  Passage for the cows to move thro.  The chute arrangement can be built force single row or two rows of cows.  Feed in  tube is filled with feed with the help of chute pipe from an elevated feed   storage hub.

Tandem type:  The tandem type of arrangement permit cows to enter and be released individually.  However a wale for the cows must be provided along the side.  Gate must be provided on each stall, one for entrance and one for exit.  The tandem arrangement man be built for one or two cows of cows.

U Type:  or square type of arrangements are modifications of the tandem arrangement.  In both the cows can be brought in and released individually.  These arrangements may centralize the milking operation more than other types.

Montana: It is an abreast arrangement with elevated stall.  For one operator, one working area and two stalls are provided for two operators, two working areas and four stalls are provided.

Dairy Cattle Housing

Stall systems for the milking room.  Stall systems are another floor-level, with the platforms at the same level as the floor on which the operator works, or elevated, with the cow platform from 30 to 36 inches above the operator floor (See Figure 16.14).  Floor level stalls are usually arranged abreast like the stalls in a stall barn (Figure 16.15)

The cows may walk through after milking or back out.  For one operator, the most convenient number of stalls in this arrangement seems to be 6 to 1; for two operators, 8 to 12 or 16 stalls should be provided.

The elevated-stall system places the cows at a more convenient and comfortable work height for the operator (Figure 16.16).  If milk is carried from milking room to milk house, the operator floor should be at the same level as the level as the milk-house floor.  The stalls are then elevated, and suitable range provided for the cows.  With the pipeline milker, the operator may be in a pit, and the cows at the same level as the holding area.

Chute.  There are a number of arrangements of stalls sited to the elevated-stall system.  The chute-type stalls are probably the lest expensive to construct, because no walk for the cows is necessary, and fewer gates need to provided for handling the cows.  However, all the cows in one line must be let in and released at one time.  A slow milker may hold up the line and cause lost time.  Fed boxes that slide out into the operators area permit clear passage for the cows to move through.  The chute arrangement can be built for a single row or two rows of cows.

Tandem.  The tandem type of arrangement permits cows to enter and be released individually.  However, a walk for the cows must be provided along the side.  Gates must be provided on each stall, one for entrance and one for exit.  Ropes over pulleys from the gates to the operator’s area facilitate the handling of the cows.  The tandem arrangement can be built for one or two rows of cows.            

U type.  The U-type and square-type arrangements are moderations of the tandem arrangement.  In both, the cows can be brought  in and released individually.  These arrangements may centralize the milking operation more than other types.  In the square-type arrangement the pipeline milker is essential, because the operator has no exit through which to carry the milk when the cows are in the stalls.

Montana.  The Montana-type milking room is an abreast arrangement  with elevated stalls.  For one operator, one working area and two stalls are provided for two operators, two working areas and four stalls are provided.

Since concentrate grain is normally fed in the milking room, an adequate supply should be readily available at milking time.  This can be provided by overhead storage with chutes, or by storage in a large container in the operation’s area.

In some regions of mild climate, where little or no housing is required for dairy animal, the milking area is a separate milking barn.  This milking barn is similar in arrangement to the loose housing milking area.       

Arrangement for efficiency.  For maximum efficiency in operating the loose housing system.  it is essential that he various units be correctly located with respect to one another.  Such an efficient layout incorporating the ideas already discussed is shown in

Space Requirements of Dairy Animals and Layouts of Dairy Farms

All animals require shelter for protection and comfort. They can perform better under favourable environmental conditions. Housing of animals need initial capital to the extent the dairy farmers can afford. The animals are to be protected from high and low temperature, strong sunlight, heavy rainfall, high humidity, frost, snowfall, strong winds, ecto-parasite and endo-parasites. The comfortable temperature range for dairy breeds of cattle, buffaloes and goats is 150C to 270C. Climatic stress occurs when the temperature goes 50C below or above this range.

High humidity combined with high temperature causes more stress to animals in tropics. Rainfall in cold climate also causes stress in temperate zone. Strong winds further aggravate the conditions both in tropics and temperate climate. Several techniques are available to provide relief from hot weather conditions for lactating dairy cows. In tropical and sub-tropical climates, well-ventilated shed is a necessity at points of high heat stress, such as feed barns, loafing areas, and in holding areas. It is important to provide a sufficient flow of air through the building in which the animals are kept to ensure optimum thermal conditions for dairy animals.

The space requirements of dairy animals as per Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) are given in table belo

Floor, feeding manger and watering space requirements of dairy animals












Young calves (< 8 weeks)



40- 50


Individual or in groups of below 5



Older calves (> 8 wks)





Groups of below 15








Groups of below 25



Adult cows





Groups of below 25



Adult Buffaloes





Groups of below 25-30



Down calvers























*     Based on ISI Standards for housing in India.
The actual length and width of water trough may be decided as per the strength of group and size of the paddock.


Model Layouts of Dairy Farms of Various Sizes

Model layouts for the construction of various farm buildings have been prepared under loose system of housing. The loose system of housing dairy animals has been recommended for most of the agro-climatic zones of the country with minor modifications except in heavy rainfall regions and the high altitude regions where winters are very harsh. The dairy animals under lose system of housing are grouped together based on their age in case of growing animals and based on their physiological condition when they are adults. The various categories of dairy animals may be formed such as milking cows, dry and pregnant cows, down-calvers, bulls, heifers and the calves. All these animals need to be housed in separate sheds and the provision in the layout has to be made accordingly.

Apart from the animal sheds the certain other ancillary buildings/structures are also required to be constructed such as chaff cutter shed, feed store, implements store, straw store, milking parlour, milk room, silo pits and manure pits apart from the office, lawns. The large sized dairy farms may also need overhead water storage tank, a small sized workshop and parking space. The farm building may be arranged in such a manner that they result in higher animal productivity and labour efficiency with minimum movement of people and the animals. For example, the milking parlour may be situated close to the milking cows shed; the milk room may be adjacent to the milking parlour, the feed storage room also should be close to the milking parlour as the compound feed in mostly fed in the milking parlour during milking. The calf shed should be cloase to the milking cows shed if weaning of calves is practiced. The farm building should be constructed using cheaper locally availbale construction materials so that the construction cost is minimized.

Given under are some model layouts of dairy farms of various sizes for the setting up of commercial dairy farms.

Layout od Dairy Farm for 20 Cow/Buffalo Unit

As prepared by Dr. M.L.Kamboj (NDRI, Karnal)

M4 Lesson 10 fig.1

M4 Lesson 10 fig.2

M4 Lesson 10 fig.3


Last modified: Friday, 7 February 2014, 9:30 AM