Where can I find plans and planning information for dairy freestall barns?

Planning a new barn may be a once in a lifetime experience. Therefore, it is important to look at the project objectively and take a reasonable amount of time to gather good information and ideas that can be incorporated into a system that creates a healthy and productive environment for the cows and their caregivers.

Some resources to consider are:

Penn State Agricultural & Biological Engineering Extension website. It contains a number of “Idea Plans” for 2-row, 3-row, 4-row & 6-row dairy freestall layouts that can be downloaded in pdf format. The website also contains a variety of building layouts for “Special Needs” cows such as dry cows, maternity, and post-fresh cows. Building component details for freestalls, fenceline feeding, watering areas, floor surfaces, sidewalls, and ridge ventilation alternatives are also available. These plans are not working drawings, but are meant to be helpful to producers, engineers, builders, equipment suppliers, and other agricultural professionals that may be involved in the planning, design, construction, and installation of dairy systems. http://www.abe.psu.edu/extension/ip/dairyideaplans.html

The plans described above are also available in a 100 page coil bound booklet entitled “Penn State Housing Plans for Milking and Special-Needs Cows” (NRAES-200) from the Natural Resource, Agricultural and Engineering Service (NRAES) at NRAES Cooperative Extension, PO Box 4557, Ithaca, NY 14852-4557 USA, Phone: (607) 255-7654 or online at www.nraes.org. NRAES also sells proceedings from conferences on design free stall facilities, dairy feeding systems, and milking center design (see their webpage for more information on these conference proceedings).

MidWest Plan Services (MWPS) also publishes an excellent freestall dairy housing reference handbook titled “Dairy Freestall: Housing and Equipment, 7th edition” (MWPS-7) available at Midwest Plan Services, 122 Davidson Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011 USA, Phone: 515-294-4337 or on line at www.mwps.org.

Kansas State University has some very good bulletins on expansion and planning available at their website www.asi.ksu.edu
Freestall Barn Design and Cooling Systems, EP76
Planning a Dairy Expansion MF2318
Planning a Milking Center MF2165
Relocation and Expansion Planning for Dairy Producers MF2424
Special Needs Facilities: Recommendations for Housing Pregnant, Lactating, and Sick Cows, EP100

In addition to carefully reviewing the plans and information from these sources be sure to schedule visits to a variety of new – and not so new – dairy systems to experience the features of cow comfort & environment, grouping, animal & vehicle traffic patterns, special cow areas, isolation & restraint, feed delivery & management, and manure handling for yourself.

A large cardboard box can be useful to collect all the information you will gather and notes you will make during the planning process.

Dan F. McFarland, Sr. Extension Educator – Agricultural Engineering, Penn State Cooperative Extension