An Investment to Build Upon: New “Dairy Freestall Housing and Equipment” Handbook Released

Mrs. Dianne Shoemaker, Field Specialist, Dairy Production Economics, Ohio State University Extension

Thirty-five dollars.  That would buy a summer’s worth of my favorite ice cream treats at the Dalton Dari-ette, or about 9 lb of peanut butter M&Ms.  Seems like a lot of money in that context.  However, $35, the price of the new Dairy Freestall Housing and Equipment Handbook, is 0.035% or less than 4 hundredths of one percent of the cost of a $100,000 building project.  Meaning what?  Not one new construction (and not many of those come in under $100,000 anymore), or remodeling project should be started on an Ohio dairy farm without a $35 investment in the very nicely updated “Dairy Freestall Housing and Equipment Handbook”,  MWPS-7.  Once purchased, invest some time looking through the extensive information it puts at your fingertips and incorporate the information into your building plans.

I always keep two copies of the handbook, one to loan out and one to have on hand to answer questions.  Dimensions for freestalls are a common question.  This new edition does a nice job of giving dimensions not just for heifers and cows, but for increasing weights (sizes) of cows.  Freestalls for dry cows should be bigger than freestalls for lactating cows in the same herd.  As the cow progresses through her gestation, she and her calf simply take up more room and need more stall space to be comfortable.  How much more?  This depends on the size and average weight of your cows.  Evaluate the cows, then check the charts!

In this eighth edition, general chapter topics have remained the same: Data Summary, Planning and Developing Total Dairy Facilities, Dairy Replacement Housing, Designing Facilities for the Milking Herd, Milking Center Design, Housing for Transition and Special Needs Cows, Building Environment, Manure and Effluent Management, Feeding Facilities, and Utilities.  However, content in each section has more depth and has been expanded to include new and emerging technologies and issues that should be considered in the design of today’s dairy farms.

The dairy industry has changed tremendously in the last 30 years and so has the quantity and depth of information to help make investments in remodeling and new construction pay back for years to come.  The eighth edition can be purchased on-line at  If you don’t want to pick it up in Iowa, a shipping charge will also be applied in which case it will cost slightly more than four hundredths of one percent of a $100,000 construction project.