Uniform calving is difficult to achieve – especially in expanding herds where large numbers of cows are purchased to fill available stalls, says Dan McFarland, agricultural engineer with Penn State Extension. Designing facilities based on a uniform calving rate can lead to overcrowding in dry-cow, close-up and maternity areas.

Avoiding overcrowding in close-up and maternity areas is extremely important for minimizing stress. Therefore, size pre-fresh and maternity facilities large enough to reduce overcrowding of these areas.

McFarland provides feeding and resting space guidelines for cows from dry-off to post-fresh in a Dairy Focus Newsletter article entitled, “Pre-fresh, Maternity, & Post-Fresh Space: Getting the Numbers Right.” He also discusses the results of a study that examined “uniform” vs. “real world” calving rates and their impact on overcrowding on 160 New York dairy farms.

Source: Dairy Focus Newsletter, August 2011