Proper cattle housing minimizes stress and enhances animal well-being, which is vital to food quality of market animals and consumer confidence. The following points about housing conditions are outlined in the Dairy Animal Care Quality Assurance (DACQA) manual:
- Shelter should provide sufficient protection from temperature extremes and be structurally safe.
- Shelter should provide adequate space for animal care, comfort and safety.
- Cattle should be given clean, dry bedding to enhance animal hygiene, health and air quality in facilities.
- Avoid slippery surfaces, particularly in high-traffic areas.
- Facilities should be clean and well-ventilated with good drainage and manure removal systems to avoid standing water and excess manure accumulation.
- Avoid overcrowding, which can increase competition for feed intake and may compromise animal performance and well-being.
- Cattle should be offered adequate space for comfort and environmental management. The amount of space depends on animal size and environmental conditions.
- Adequate feed bunk space and water supply are equally important to reduce competition for the essential nutrients required to promote well-being, health and optimum performance efficiency.
- Evaluate stall comfort and routinely groom stalls for optimum usage.
Well-maintained facilities result in better animal performance and a higher quality end-product in both milk and beef production.
DACQA is a voluntary, national certification program intended to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices, which assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products that are harvested from cattle on America’s dairy farms.