This is one “wing” of the New Generation Dairy. The gravel drive goes all the way around the farm. The grass field to the right of the picture was recently harvested for chopped alfalfa to feed to the girls. Calf Village is in the background – I’ll have more details about that for you later this week!
You can see that the barn has an open design. All the walls of the barn are open when the weather is nice out (which it sure was on the day I visited!). The long sides of the barn have curtains that can be lowered during cold or bad weather. The ends of the barn have large overhead garage-style doors that can also be closed. (The milking parlor is in the background, off to the left of this photo.)
Keeping the barn open as much as possible allows for great natural ventilation (aka, wind), and there is no shortage of that in this area of Indiana! When the wind gets to be too much (like in the winter) these curtains are closed to keep the wind off the cows.
We’ve seen the cows at their buffet feeder before, but did you notice all the fans? There are large fans throughout the barn – near the feeders (which are part of their pens) and in the milking parlor. Each barn has 122 3-foot fans, and there are more fans in the milking parlor to keep the cows cool there.
In addition to the fans that keep the air moving, this barn also has a system of misters. You can see the little nozzles in the photo below. They didn’t need the misters on the day I was there, but the entire barn is equipped with this mister system along the feeder. It sprays a very fine spray of cool water into the air. The water is blown around by the fans, and this works wonders to keep the air cool in the summer months! There are also more misters in the milking parlor. Wouldn’t want the girls to get hot while they’re being milked!
In this 4-row free stall barn, the pens are set up in long rows. This “wing” of the barn has two pens, one along the front side and one along the back side of the barn. A large aisle separates the two pens, and this is where we have been looking at the feeders.
Inside each pen is an open area behind the feeders, two back-to-back rows of free stalls, and another open area on the other side of the free stalls. The floors of the pens are textured cement. This makes it easy to clean the manure and urine from the pens, but the texture keeps it from being too slippery for the cows to stand on.
Free stalls are spaces that are large enough for one cow at a time, separated by large railings. The cows can go into these free stalls to relax and lie down. There is sand bedding in each stall. Each pen has two rows of free stalls, facing each other, with no barrier between the rows.
Whenever they want, the cows can lie down and take a nap (or chew their cud) or they can get up and walk around, get a drink, have a snack, or go visit their other friends.
Every time the cows are in the milking parlor, the sand bedding is cleaned (manure and urine taken out) and their pens are scraped out. Wouldn’t you love to come home from work to a clean house every day?