Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why Do Cows Live in Barns?

I’m often asked “Do your cows graze outside?” My answer is no, our cows live and eat indoors. When I was giving a tour last week, someone asked me this question and after I responded she advised me that it was cruel to house cows in barns. 

Cows eating in one of our freestall barns
One look inside our freestall barn tells a different story. More accurate words to describe the conditions in our barns are comfortable, clean and relaxing. The cows can be seen strolling down the lane, resting in their beds, chewing their cud, drinking at the water trough with their herd mates, and having something to eat. They have the freedom to do what they want, when they want.

Cows have the freedom to eat, walk around, relax, etc.
These individual beds are filled with sand
Fresh water is available at several locations in the barn
The atmosphere of the barn is relaxing
Livestock housing has become the focus of lots of attention lately. There are a variety of ways to raise healthy, content cows. We choose to house our cows in freestall barns with the goal of providing a comfortable environment for our animals which ensures them ample rest, protection from climatic extremes, and free access to a well-balanced diet and fresh water.

Freestall barns are designed with cow comfort in mind. The barns contain individual beds that are separate from the alley way where the cows walk, stand to eat and poop. This design makes it easy to scrape the manure so the cows live in a clean environment.

Manure is scraped from the barn so the cows have a clean environment
The beds are filled with soft bedding. We use sawdust in one barn and sand in the other barns. The bedding is changed regularly because it’s important for cows to have a clean and dry place to relax.

The barns have natural light and good ventilation
The vaulted ceilings allow fresh air to flow through the barn. This natural ventilation system maintains cooler temperatures on hot days while protecting the animals from the heat of the sun. Side curtains and roll-up doors can be closed in the winter to keep the cows warm and open in the summer to keep the cows cool.

Fans and water misters keep the cows cool on warm days. During a hot summer day, the barns are the coolest place on the farm!

The cows walk down an outdoor lane to the milking parlor three times each day to be milked. They walk to the parlor in groups and return to the barn, voluntarily, at their leisure. 

Walking from the barn to the milking parlor
The result of this housing; cows who are healthy, productive, content and relaxed. 

While writing my blog, I stumbled on an article addressing the same topic:
Dairy cows udderly happy with life indoors

A quote from this article that I like, “Modern dairy buildings can best be described as cow palaces. They are light, airy and allow cows the freedom to wander as they please between the area where they lie in cubicles and the area where they lounge about and feed.”


  1. Great post! Cows are so comfortable and well cared for in barns across the country. Thank you for sharing that for everyone to see.

  2. They are pampered cows! Thanks Robin.

  3. Very clean barns & cows! It is the same on our farm...the barn is the coolest place in the summer.

  4. Sarah DaughertyMay 9, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Thanks for the blog with pictures! Your cows are very clean. Great job!

  5. Thanks for the nice comments. Glad you like the post!

  6. Great Article! As a fellow dairy farmer, I appreciate your dedication to educating consumers. Keep up the good work! God bless

    1. I suspect people who are critical may be thinking about the "factory" farms you see along I-76 in northeastern Colorado and along I-80 in Nebraska. Those animals are packed together with no place to move around and the stench must be unbearable for neighbors. It was good of you to show the actual conditions of your farm. More power to you! Wish more people were able to enter the food production industry in that or a similar manner.

  7. Now that I think about it, I wonder why so many people DO have a problem with it.

    It's so similar to having an indoor cat or dog as a pet.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. You have beautiful barns! As long as cows have food and are cared for it does not matter whether they are in barn or field. Cows in big beautiful barns are living the life!!

  9. That is some luxury living those cows have!
    Thanks for the article! Beautiful work!

  10. Nice Farm were do you live so I can go to a tour

  11. Thanks Joshua. We're located in Northeast Ohio. For details, check out our website at http://hastingsdairy.com/.

  12. well I'm impressed. I it makes me feel good that most of my preconceptions about dairy farms were wrong. I want to thank you for providing this information to teach me and others that farm life is not all that bad afterall. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to your animals.

    1. I appreciate your comment. Thank you for taking the time to read about our farm!

  13. I believe that cows are born to walk on the dirt. They are deserved to breath in open fresh air and their bones are keep strong by the sunny shine.

    Your cows has good beds, but they are resting in only one position.

    Your cows may free to eat and have fresh water, but they can not run or play together.

    In hot summer, your cows are keep cool with fans, a lot of fans. But how noisy is it?

    1. Our cows are comfortable, content and all of their needs are being met. The environment in our barns in calm and routine, because that's what cows like. The fans make some noise, but it's not too loud and doesn't bother the cows.

  14. Wow this is a very well maintained barn, these cows look very comfortable, I show cows and have 5 cows as my own and I care for them just like you would to your kids as an 11 year old.


Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I’m opening the doors of our farm to share with you and enjoy engaging in discussion. Please be respectful in your comments. I reserve the right to remove posts that include name calling, slander, and vulgar language or contain links to websites that assault animal agriculture.

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