Tips To Designing Your Dairy Cow House

A cow’s comfort is paramount. It goes a long way in enhancing production. One of the major factors that influence cow’s comfort is the cow house design. Popularly known as a barn or pen, the cow house ought to be very comfortable for all cows. Some of the principles that dictate the barn design include;

  • Cow comfort
  • Durability
  • Labor efficiency and concentration
  • Cost efficiency
  • Safety
  • Feed, manure, people, materials and information flow
  • Simplicity, flexibility and expandability

In regards to animal health, the cow shed is designed to accommodate all types of dairy cows. This is done to ensure that the animals get enough free-walking area all year round regardless of their size or age. Such a shade should be able to accommodate all the activities that take place in the shed. Some of the features that will make this possible include;

Free Stall System

This is the cubical system adopted in most dairy cow house designs. This is just but one of the many designs such as loose housing and tie stall designs. The free stall system is very popular among large and small scale farmers as it accommodates all types of animals. It gives a higher level of cow comfort which has been found to increase production.

With the free stall system, dairy cows tend to be very clean. This is very important to a dairy farmer as hygiene plays a major role in determining animal health. Some of the major health challenges farmers face such as mastitis in dairy cows can be managed or avoided with improved hygiene.

The free stall system allows dairy farmers to keep more animals. This makes it more economical compared to other systems such as loose housing. Though the construction cost of the stalls will be high, the extra cost will be justified if it will give you enough space to keep an extra cow.

Milking Parlor

A milking parlor is the section of the cow house where milk is collected from the cow. In some cases, the parlor will be a completely separate room from the cow house while in other cases, especially zero grazing, it will be part of the cow house. Milking parlors are equipped with milking machinery and is designed to accommodate one or more animals at a go depending on the demand.

As you may have found out in our post on milking parlor designs, there are different parlor designs. Different farms will adopt or install different parlor designs depending on the number of animals kept. From an ergonomic point of view, the parlor ought to have sufficient light and ventilation. This is not only important to the cows but also to the milk man.

Cow Handling And Treatment Area

A good cow house design should include a treatment and handling area. This is the section of the house where dairy cows are singled out for specialized care. Normally, it will be located next to the milking parlor and will be used for hoof trimming, veterinary treatments and artificial insemination.

The treatment and handling area should have a treatment box. This box is used to confined individual dairy cows for treatment. Large dairy farms with 60 or more cows ought to have a separate attention area. This section is used to hold animals temporarily with close supervision. With such a room included in your dairy cow house design, it becomes quite easy for you to isolate cows suspected to have contagious diseases.

The handling and treatment section will particularly be very important is mastitis starts to creep in. animals with lameness or any other condition that demands specialized care should be kept here.

Milk Machine And Storage Room

The purpose of keeping dairy cows is getting milk. You therefore need to give great attention to milk collection and storage. The milk machine and storage room is dedicated to serve as the collection and reception area. It is designed in such a way that the milk will be stored in a cool and hygienic environment.

The storage room serves as the dispatching center. It is at this station that the milk will be stored and only released to meet a certain demand. Milking equipment is also kept here. It is at the same station that the equipment will be cleaned.

In some dairy cow house designs, there will be a machine and equipment room. This is part of the section but is meant for the placement of compressors and vacuum equipment. A good design should separate the cooling equipment from heat radiating equipment. In such a design, the milk tanks are kept in a milk room away from other equipment in a bid to avoid inconsistent heat flow and contamination from oils and lubricants.

Office And Sanitation

Dairy farming is a business just like any other. It is thus paramount that you have an office. This is where all managerial and administration functions should be undertaken. Some of the important functions of the office include farm record keeping, veterinary records, animal health and AI record keeping.

In addition to the office, there should be a sanitation room. This can be the same room but serving different functions. The sanitation station hosts a cold storage facility. Veterinary medicine and AI utilities such as bull semen are kept here.

It is recommended that the sanitation room is located in the office’s vicinity. It can play host to the cleaning house or have a washing area for the cleaning and sanitization of the milking equipment. The washing area may be separate but shouldn’t be far from the milking parlor and milk collection center.


Designing a cow house will definitely be one of the major investments that you make when starting a dairy farming business. It therefore needs to be thought through to ensure that you are coming up with a design that will give you value for money. The design can be changed later as the farm grows to accommodate arising needs.

The design you choose to begin with should be flexible enough to accommodate the changes without necessarily making major adjustments. We hope that these tips will help you come up with the best dairy cow house design that will be comfortable, affordable, flexible and durable.