Estimated Construction Costs for Free Stall Dairy Systems
Casler, George L.
About 90 percent of the dairy cows in New York are housed in stanchion-type barns. Since 1961, over 700 free stall housing systems have been installed; some are completely new and others are conversions from stanchion barns, A recent New York study indicates that the labor requirements in free stall systems are substantially lower than in stanchion barns (4, 5, 6).* Thus, the major reason for changing to a free stall system is to lower the labor requirement or, conversely, increase output per man. An additional factor is that free stall housing usually is combined with high-silage feeding which is compatible with increased corn silage. On many soils, corn silage provides more nutrients per acre than other forage crops, thereby supporting a larger herd on the same acreage. Thus a free stall system provides the opportunity (but not a guarantee) for the farm operator to increase his net income. Many New York dairymen are faced with the decision of whether they should change from a stanchion-type barn to a free stall-milking parlor-high silage system. For most dairymen, such a change is a major decision requiring large investment and frequently an increase in size of business. To make a wise decision, a farmer must compare the investment required with the benefits he expects to receive. A farmer can determine the investment required by obtaining bids from dealers and contractors for the items required by the system he is planning. Many farmers, however, would like to make tentative budgets of investment required and expected benefits before asking for bids. This publication is intended to help farmers make preliminary investment estimates for free stall dairy systems.
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University