Transition cow housing can be very expensive on a perstall or per-square-footage basis. This often leads to transition cow housing being reduced in the budget or cut out completely. “Rather than look at the cost per animal housed in the transition group, maybe a better way to look at cost is on a total herd basis,” suggests John Tyson, agricultural engineer with Penn State Extension.

Say, for example, the facility costs $3,000 or $4,000 per animal to build. However, if 20 percent of the total herd is being housed in it, that leaves 80 percent of the herd to help pay for it, Tyson says.

In other words, for every one cow in the group there are four other cows in lactation giving more milk because of the facility. If you look at it this way, what was once a high cost is now less than $1,000 per cow in the herd, and much easier to pay for based on the production and health gains.

“With transition cow housing, you are ‘paying it forward’ so to speak, and that investment lasts far beyond the end of this barn,” Tyson says.