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Effect of elevated feedstalls on social and feeding behaviour of dairy cows

A feeding place width of 61 cm per cow is traditionally regarded as appropriate in today‘s dairy husbandry. For self-catching racks about 70 cm width per cow are calculated. However, previous studies show that an increase in available space can reduce displacements, from which especially lower ranking animals benefit. Many years of experience with elevated feed stalls show a positive effect on claw health.

Objective of investigation:

The first partial goal was to investigate the effect of increased available space at the feeding table on the frequency of displacements and on feed intake. The second goal was to find out whether the dividers (feedstalls) can offer the animals additional protection.


In the loose housing of the University of British Columbia 24 Holstein cows (among them 9 first calf heifers) were observed.
The cows were equally divided into three groups, based on the length of the lactation period, as well as on milk yield:
a) 0.64 m feeding place width/cow
b) 0.92 m feeding place width/cow
c) 0.87 m feeding place width/cow and elevated feedstalls

Elevated feedstall with divider:

elevated feedstall with divider - dimensions


Displacements [per cow and day]

effect of elevated feedstalls: fewer displacements at the feeding place

Significantly fewer displacements with elevated feedstalls!

Feeding behaviour

effect of elevated feedstalls on feeding behaviour: more cows at the feeding place

More cows at the feeding place with elevated feedstalls!


Wider feeding places promote undisturbed, stress-free feed intake, which is especially important for lower ranking cows. The best results concerning displacements and eating times are attained with elevated feedstalls!

Source: T. J. DeVries1 and M. A. G. von Keyserlingk, 2006: Feed Stalls Affect the Social and Feeding Behavior of Lactating Dairy

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