The Effect of Cubicle and Straw Yard Housing on the Behaviour, Production and Hoof Health of Dairy Cows
An experiment is described where 40 spring-calving dairy cows were allocated to be housed in a deep straw yard or a cubicle house from November to April, in order to examine the effects on behaviour, milk production and hoof health. Cows in straw yards spent longer lying down and feeding,
except during oestrus when they increased their time spent standing proportionately more than cows in cubicles. In the straw yard cows spent longer in associative behaviour during oestrus and had fewer unsuccessful mounting attempts. There were no differences in milk production or composition
but cows in the straw yard lost more weight after calving. Cows in the cubicles had a reduction in heel depth, which is a predisposing factor to lameness. It is concluded that a straw yard system for dairy cows allows greater opportunity to display normal behaviour, leads to better hoof health
and provides acceptable levels of production.