Space requirements increase as cows near calving

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As cows near calving, the amount of bedded resting space needed per cow increases. Rick Stowell, agricultural engineer at Ohio State University, offers the following resting space guidelines for bedded packs or loafing areas. Keep in mind, free-stalls are recommended for far-off and close-up dry cows, but this may not be an option on all dairies.

Cow group – Bedded resting space per cow
Far-off dry cows (60 to 20 days before calving) – 50-60 square feet
Close-up dry cows (21 days before calving) – 60-100 square feet. Provide access to individual pen.
Maternity cows – 100-300 square feet. Individual pen is preferred.
Fresh cows – Provide free-stalls

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