Learning from drivers and conflicts around bedded pack barns

P.J. Galama, H.J.C. van Dooren, C.H.A.M. Eilers

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperProfessional


Due to problems with the freestall a network of dairy farmers in the Netherlands started looking for alternative housing systems for dairy cattle. Therefore researchers and dairy farmers shared ideas and looked abroad in America and Israel for housing systems without cubicles. This gave inspiration for deep bedded pack systems like in these countries. The drivers (motivations) for these housing systems were animal welfare and manure quality. However, they had to be made suitable for the Dutch climate. Therefore calculations and experiments were done on experimental and commercial farms to keep the bedding dry and see if these drivers create conflicts. During these experiments and discussions with experts conflicts appeared like 1) more space per cow versus more ammonia emission and risk of nitrous oxide emission and 2) using waste materials as bedding versus increased food safety risks and 3) larger buildings versus landscape quality. From international contacts, experiences and experiments on experimental and commercial farms and discussions with suppliers of dairy housing, building aesthetics committees, architects, composting experts and policymakers we learned and get ideas about better management of the bedding and farm designs. However, we are only at the start of the development and implementation of bedded pack barns. Our experiences bring answers but at the same time raise new questions, especially about emissions. This is an ongoing learning cycle, which is described by the DEED model. DEED stands for 4 learning phases; ‘Describe’, ‘Explain’, ‘Explore’ and ‘Design’ and describes the learning cycle, the factors involved and the negotiation that is part of all phases. The network of dairy farmers involved in the learning cycle is very dynamic, about 100 farmers have participated in discussions. A small group of three farms is monitored and evaluated on sustainability aspects. Those farmers, researchers and experts are involved in workshops and expert meetings to discuss the drivers and conflicts and to find solutions. This learning process results in adapted management of the bedding and new designs. For a good learning process and a major impact it is important to have the right mixture of experiences on commercial and experimental farms together with lab experiments and studies. And it is also important to discuss the conflicts together with experts in an open innovation process.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event10th European IFSA Symposium, Aarhus, Denmark -
Duration: 1 Jul 20124 Jul 2012


Conference10th European IFSA Symposium, Aarhus, Denmark


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