Internationale verkenning van ervaringen met vrijloopstallen = International experiences with alternative loose housing systems for dairy cattle

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As part of a research project on feasibility of loose housing systems in The Netherlands, financed by the Dutch Dairy Board (PZ) and Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), an international inventory on experiences with this kind of housing system for dairy cows took place. Data and experiences from Israël, United States of America, Germany, France and Ireland were included and are presented in this report. Sources of information were, scientific journals, applied agricultural papers, conferences, meetings and two trips to Israël and United States. The changes from free stall housing system to in Israel was driven by new regulation on slurry handling and prevention of slurry run off to surface water. The lying area has a surface of dried manure and provides a cow with up to 20 m2. Twice a day this bedding is tilled to increase evaporation. Due to the arid climate in Israël the bedding becomes dry even when, as is done at some farms, the slurry from the feeding lane is put on the lying area. The changes in the USA were primarily initiated by farmers who wanted better production, well'being and health for their herds. The lying area is smaller (around 7'10 m2 per cow) and is a combination of sawdust and slurry. This bedding is tilled twice a day during milking and starts composting. The loose housing system in Germany is based on the system in the USA. The loose housing system in Ireland and France is called `out wintering pads¿ and is a alternative for either free stall housing or pasturing during winter. Out wintering pads are a fenced bedding area without roof. The bedding consist of wood chips with drainage underneath and a concrete walking lane behind the feeding rack. Manure is washed into the drainage system. For all different loose housing systems some data are available. The compost barns in the USA are monitored most intensively by the University of Minnesota. General outcomes of monitoring programs and experiences points to an improvement of animal well'being and health without negative effects on milk quality. One aspect that got little attention is the environmental effects i.e. emissions of ammonia, odor and greenhouse gasses. These aspects together with the feasibility under Dutch circumstances is the main focus of the ongoing research in The Netherlands.
Original languageDutch
Place of PublicationLelystad
PublisherAnimal Sciences Group
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Publication series

NameRapport / Animal Sciences Group
PublisherAnimal Sciences Group, Wageningen UR
ISSN (Print)1570-8616


  • dairy farming
  • dairy cows
  • cow housing
  • loose housing
  • product development
  • animal welfare

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