It could not have been clearer for the Bischofs: Animal welfare is always the top priority when making decisions. At the same time, the organic farm was made ready for the next generation thanks to an advanced automation infrastructure.

Number of animals 26 cows
Breed Brown Swiss
Farmed area 25 ha
Barn occupied since 2022
Country Switzerland

Animal welfare is always the top priority

The Bischofs are the third generation to run the family farm ’Stapfenhof’ based at Heiden in the Swiss canton of Appenzell. The farm, which boasts a fantastic view of Lake Constance, was purchased by Beny’s grandfather in 1952 and has been supplying organic milk ever since. They have been displaying the ’Biosuisse’ organic label since 2001 and 25 ha of grassland provide the animals with their own organic forage. Beny’s brother is responsible for producing cattle at the family‐run suckler cow farm.

Throughout the four‐year planning phase for their new free stall barn, the central focus was on the well‐being of their 26 Brown Swiss dairy cows. For the Bischofs, it was important to provide sufficient space to allow the animals to avoid higher‐ranking cows. While the new barn has a capacity to accommodate 36 cows, the planned expansion is limited to 30 animals to maintain forage self‐sufficiency without any external purchases. Through the integration of a milking robot and an automated bedding system for the free stalls, a high level of automation has been introduced, enabling the efficient management of the barn by just one person.

The relocation

Relocation to the new free stall barn (May 2022) was initially a big change not only for the Bischofs but also for the animals. The animals spent the first couple of days in the free stall barn to allow them to get used to the new routine. During this period, milking was still performed in the old tying stall. On the sixth day, the cows were milked in the new barn and after just one week approx. 90% of them were willing to enter the new robot on their own. Relocation went smoothly without any failures or injuries.

"I wanted the animals to be on soft ground due to their joints, and slip resistance is much better on the rubber mats, too."

Beny Bischof

Animal-friendly standing and slip resistance

When it came to the walking alleys, the Bischofs chose a slatted floor. The feed alley is covered with KURA S, which ensures animal‐friendly softness and slip resistance. As such, the cows remain as clean as possible and help prevent the transfer of dirt into the free stalls. The lying alley currently lacks rubber mats, but retrofitting this area with mats was part of the original stable plans and is possible at any time. Slip resistance in front of the milking robot was absolutely essential for the Bischofs and the reason why they opted for profiKURA S with a corundum surface. Even if fighting to establish social ranking occurs in front of the robot, there are no situations in which animals can suffer injuries. Cleaning is carried out by a manure removal robot.

"The animals feel much safer on the rubber mats and take longer steps. In the area where we have only concrete, we’ve noticed a smear layer developing, especially in the summer months, and this in turn has to be removed with water. That’s not a problem on mats.”

Beny Bischof

Healthy hooves and optimized abrasion

For Beny Bischof, it is just as important that his cows have healthy hooves. As they help the cows walk with ease over gravel paths and roads to the pasture. In addition to the hoof‐friendly softness, the abrasive corundum in the mat surface supports the correct hoof form through gentle hoof abrasion, thereby promoting hoof trimming.

The more outdoor exercise, the happier the cows

From the end of March until mid‐November, the Stapfenhof cows have access to pasture for a few hours each day. Beside being good for the animals, it is also pleasant for their hooves. On the strip grazing pasture, the animals have the chance to eat fresh grass every day. Animal behavior has changed a lot due to the daily exercise. Frau Bischof says: "In the past, when we let them out to pasture, the animals couldn’t get out of the barn fast enough, almost running at times. Now they know that they can go out to pasture in the morning, it’s a lot less crowded. They’re much more relaxed, both on the way to and from the pasture. The herd is a lot calmer in general."

Stapfenhof – a thoroughly coherent concept

The Bischofs’ new construction has been well planned. A high degree of automation, which enables single‐person management for the current generation and all future ones. A roof‐mounted solar panel system, which enables climate‐neutral operation of the facilities. And species‐appropriate flooring for the animals that ensures a high level of safety, excellent hoof health and good‐tempered, high‐performing cows. A farm that is truly a role model. Thank you for letting us contribute to your amazing work with our KRAIBURG barn mats!

The following products are used on this farm:

Feed alley Slatted floor KURA S
In front of the milking robot Slatted floor profiKURA S

Questions about the farm?

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Gummiwerk KRAIBURG Elastik GmbH & Co. KG
Jürg Wiesendanger

Göllstraße 8, 84529 Tittmoning, Germany