What to do with cows refusing cubicles – Practical Experience
What to do with cows refusing cubicles – Practical Experience

Cows refusing cubicles

  • When a dairy cow lays down in the walking alley, that means the cubicle is not comfortable for lying
  • For a cow to choose the cubicle as her lying area, the cubicle must be significantly more comfortable than the walking area
  • Animals used to a fully slatted pen or from tying stalls must learn to move correctly in the “new system” with separated cubicles
  • Climate effects: with a relative humidity above 70 % or more than 24° C the animals suffer from heat stress and seek the coolest places in the cubicle house (e.g. open doors)

When cows lie in the walking alley, the risk of claw and udder diseases increases. The animals get dirty, there is danger of injury and the total lying time is shorter.

Size differences within a herd:

size differences within a cow herd have to be considered for cubicle design

Optimal:

  • sufficient space for pain free laying down / getting up and for natural lying positions
    • e.g. flexible neck rail for animals of different sizes
    • e.g. elastic brisket board, allowing for natural lying position with foreleg stretched out and the lying position can easily be changed
  • soft and dry lying area
  • a cubicle to cow ratio of 1:1, i.e. no overstocking!

cow lies relaxed in the cubicle with a flexible brisket board

Cow lies relaxed with foreleg stretched-out in the cubicle and ruminates

Problematic:

cows not completely lying in the cubicle and standing with the hind legs in the walking alley

Overstocking and insufficient cubicle comfort promote cubicle refusal, not completely lying in the cubicle and standing with the hind legs in the walking alley. The cows get dirtier and have a higher risk of claw diseases.

Tip:

When cows refuse cubicles:

  1. improve LYING COMFORT, here the neck rail and brisket board are especially important
  2. if possible let heifers get used to cubicles

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