Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Oxen › Stall design
- February 28, 2015 at 2:27 am #85061mickeytParticipant
I am designing a barn to be built this spring for 3 Milking Shorthorn cows, a bull, and at least one team of oxen (I own all but the steers to be trained to oxen at this point). I am wondering what the ideal ‘stall’ setup would be… Boxstall for each team? What size? Has anyone set up a freestall for their oxen? I use them for the dairy cows and it has been shown to increase comfort and therefore production of dairy animals. Do you keep your team separate from the rest of the herd or together?
Thanks for any ideas.February 28, 2015 at 10:54 am #85067Michael LowParticipant
I have a similar setup right now for my mixed herd of Jersey/Dexters and Devon cattle- transitioning to Devons. We have three cows, a bull and two teams: 1 older team and a pair of younger ones coming along.
My barn is 36′ x 24′
I have 5- 4’x 8′ tie stalls.
2- 6’x 8′ tie/ box stalls
2- 6’x 8′ tie stalls
I like tie stalls for the ease of clean up in the morning. I like each animal to have their own stall so I can feed them what they need with no competition. I use the box stalls for cow/calf pairs and for pairing young stock loose together on cold (-20 or below) nights with deep bedding. The biggest stalls are for my big team and the 4′ are for the rest.
I picked these sizes because of the pre-existing size and layout of the barn. I would give a big pair 5-5.5′ and box stalls would be wider around 8′.
Also I would build so that all the animals faced the middle alley and I could feed right into their bunks.
I turn out first thing in the morning except for 1 or 2 wicked bad windy, stormy, crappy days in the winter.
I generally don’t have the cows back into the barn all grazing season. Teams come in nightly for handling. Also steers in training.
I keep my oxen separate from the cows and bull for several reasons. I keep them yarded up close to the barn so they are handy for work- the cows pasture up to one mile away in summer. The older team gets way to fat even with regular work on the cows pastures. At a certain point oxen get big and heavy- they can injure themselves and the cows/heifers if they are all messing around and competing with the bull to mount whoever is in heat.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.February 28, 2015 at 1:37 pm #85069Michael LowParticipant
Thought I would add what I do for bedding/ comfort. I use baled shavings in the winter, sawdust in the summer. Sawdust freezes in my barn after November. The floors are wood with rubber mats- pros and cons there- easy to clean off the mats but they actually hold moisture onto the wood. This seems really comfortable. My cows look like beached whales in the morning- chewing cud laying on their sides little grunts and moans and slow to get up and leave bed…
I spend $800- $1000 per year on the bedding. I get lots of nice compost, they stay clean.
Right now in our area bales of shavings from the mill are actually getting cheaper than sawdust which is pretty sad. The farm store bedding is ridiculously expensive- they sell a bagged shaving with a running horse on the bag-I joke that it should have a wallet in it’s mouth…February 28, 2015 at 5:39 pm #85070Crabapple FarmParticipant
We have several classes of cattle, and insufficient barn space. Right now, the oxen are on our piece down the road outwintering with the beef herd, with woods for shelter. That’s where the woodlot is, and it isn’t too hard to throw the yoke in the back of the truck with the chainsaw (though I wish I was finding more time to do it . . .). The dairy cows (only one currently in milk) and the bull are here on the home piece, with a run in shed. The dairy cow comes into the barn overnight, in a loose pen. Her calf has been staying in the barn all the time, and gets to nurse 2x per day under supervision (we want a little of the milk for ourselves). Overnight he is in a separate pen next to his mom. We also have a pony, who is currently in a loose pen in the barn also (he lost his outdoor privileges when he started harassing the cows excessively, and jumping the fence when I tried to put him in a separate paddock.)
I would second the concern that Oxen + Bull + Cow In Heat can be a bad combination. We’ve had times when they have all been together, but now we try to keep the oxen elsewhere when we’re expecting cows to come into heat. For reference, I once saw our Devon Bull (still young, around 1400 lbs) throw one of my shorthorns on the ground (mature, around 2000#) – no one was hurt, but there was definitely risk of serious injury. We also worry about the cows, especially heifers, when the oxen are fighting over them.
My oxen tend to bully the other cows (or try to, as in the case with the bull), and I would never let them share a freestall-type barn setup with the cows. With our open shed (12×24 on the side of the barn), they would fully occupy it and the cows had to stand out in the rain and snow. But at least there was a wide open exit so the oxen couldn’t corner anyone. But in poor weather, I had to tie the boys in their stall if I wanted the cows to be able to come into the shed.
My ox stall is a double tie stall, 10′ wide with a partial divider in the front. That is two say, two 5′ tie stalls only partially separated. In theory, I can put their yoke on in their stall with them still tied in, though I don’t. A box stall for a team would have to be pretty big, I would think. If loose housing, I would be more comfortable with a run-in shed than a closed box stall. That way if one is feeling pushy the other at least has the option of leaving. I wish my barn had a second entrance, so that the oxen could be in a separate adjacent paddock, and every one could have access to loose housing in the barn – the oxen on one side of a divider and the cows on the other. One of these years I’m going to build another barn (or maybe just tear out the guts of my current barn and rebuild) . . .
-TevisMarch 1, 2015 at 12:25 am #85073dominiquer60Moderator
I agree with separate stabling/paddock set ups for the 3 groups bull-cows-steers. A small freestall run in for the cows sounds like a good set up if you have the room for such. If you have room for a box stall/pen it is nice for calving or infirmary. I would prefer to have my oxen in straight stalls when they are inside. At the moment we have 4 pair (bovine equine) and 4 box stalls. Our turnouts have limited shelter, so when the weather is wicked we bring all 8 inside and tie everyone up in their own corner, it is the closest that we can do to having straight stalls. In this manner their is less competition over food and the bedding is better utilized when compared to 2 animals loose in the same stall.
We have also been thinking about barn layout. Recently it has been day dreaming of ways to turn 2 of the box stalls into 4 straight stalls and improve the work flow of our barn. Just last week we came up with at good stall arrangement that includes being able to add a door that connects the shed to the barn so that we don’t have to open the big gate to let horses in or out of the barn. It also allows for a sawdust bin to be added to the front of the barn, one that can be filled with the front loader (main pile is down to the dairy barn in a truck box). With the new lay out we will still have 2 box stalls that open to a small paddock, but we will also have the ease of straight stalls, and many other efficiencies.
For training, I really like to incorporate tying young stock up for part of the day, and straight stalls are perfect for such a thing. It gives them time to relax while being restrained to one area. They get used to yielding to the rope/neck strap/halter and accepting of the situation. A straight stall is a great place to teach manners such as setting over to let you to the manger or to clean a side of the stall. It is a good place to groom and pick up feet. Leading young animals to and from turn out (even if it is only several feet to freedom), is a good way to enforce manners and your leadership position on a daily basis.
Best wishes finding the right combination for your situation.
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