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Dikoproduktion : krav och behov i olika produktionsformer : teori och praktiska erfarenheter

Svantesson, Johan; Sällvik, Krister


The number of suckler cows in Sweden has increased from 60 000 in the mideighties to 165 000 1995. By tradition the majority of the suckler cows are tied up in former milking cow barns during the winter season. These barns are insulated and ventilated, not very well maintained and very labour consuming. The interest and need for development of simple, rational and cheap systems of production systems for suckler cow has increased. This study comprises both a literature review and a field study. The literature review concerns the economy in suckler cow production as well as the origin of the cattle, ethology and their behaviour. It emphasizes the role of natural behaviour, because suckler cow production in more simple production systems and housing, to be successful, has to take advantage of the natural behaviour patterns in cattle at a great degree. The last and main part of the literature review concerns climate and ambient environment and the effect on cattle heat balance, possibilities for adjustment to cold and need for extra energy when the animals are exposed to low outside temperatures as well as wind and snow or rain. The literature review concludes that housing cattle outside or in simple sheds, results in a slightly higher feed consumption because of decreased digestibility of feed and because of demand of extra feed to maintain heat balance during cold periods. The literature review also shows that the suckler cow is well adjusted to stay outside or in simple sheds during the winter in Sweden if provided with sufficient feed. The field study includes material from visits at 50 suckler cow herds with different types of housing including insulated buildings with tied up cattle, different types of loose house systems, (cubicles, deep litter straw bedding etc) and even ranch systems without buildings. Geographically the herds are sited from Stockholm region to the southernmost province, Skåne. The herd size varied from 15 to 1000 suckler cows. Most of the herds had between 30 and 60 dams. The critical period in suckler cow production is the cold season combined with calving Then the demand on the thermal environment and intensity of labour is at its maximum. The question is how the producer can coop with these critical situations in an optimum way considering the animal and human wellfare. In the field study different aspects of this, such as technical, labour and animal environment, investment and feed costs, health and productivity where looked at. The results of the field study shows that suckler cow production under Swedish climatic and soil conditions can, maintained in low cost buildings with little input of labour and economic resources, still be far better than production in the traditional way in insulated houses and with tied up cows. In the field study, the following conclusions have been drawn: - Dividing the dams into groups, are at all forms of loose house systems important so that younger and weaker individuals do not loose weight and condition. The most suitable groups are pregnant heifers in one group, first time calvers and cows in bad condition in one group and older cows in good condition in one group. - Date of calving is not a factor that excludes simple non- insulated barns. Early calving is performed with good result except when calving outside especially when there is wet snow, which can cause loss of new-born calves. - Calving difficulties are much less in loose house systems compared to tied up systems. - There should be sufficient of calving boxes, preferably one box per 8-10 heifers and one per 15-20 cows. In tied up system the need for calving boxes are even bigger. - Calf cribs are well used by the calves. It should be placed in such a way that it provides the calves with a sheltered resting place and the space must be sufficient, at least 0,6 m2 per calf or bigger, It should also be placed near the cows, be easy to reach for the calves and free from draught. - Calf health is better in loose house systems where there are less animals per m2 and the air volume per beast is greater than in tied up systems. - The working hours are more in a tied up system during the wintertime, 15-20 hours per cow compared to 8-14 hours per cow in a loose house system. - The need for checking and looking alter the cows and calves during the calving period is much greater in a tied up system than it is in a loose house system, but there is a greater demand in the stockman’s ability to take notice in his or her cattle in a loose house system. - When using existing buildings such as barns, one must be aware of the needs of reinforcement, particularly in the walls from animals and bedding. - When using straw bedding, the experience often is that the need of straw is very large and the work with the straw takes a great deal of time. There are great differences in the amount of straw that is needed depending on how many animals per m2 there are, type of feed stuff, the quality of the straw and if there is an exercise yard connected to the bam. - Straw should, if possible, be kept under roof. It decreases the need of straw and makes it easier to use. The conclusion of this study throughout both literature and field studies, is that there are good possibilities in Sweden, to develop the more simple forms of housing with maintained or more likely enhanced health and well-being in the suckler cows and their calves, To be able to take in use more simple forms of housing for the suckler cows and by this lowering the costs, means greater possibilities for the suckler cow production to survive in the long run. Today there is no margin in the suckler cow production for any expensive investments.


dikor; kalvar; kalvgömma; strö; klimat; stall

Published in

Rapport - Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för lantbruksteknik
Publisher: Institutionen för lantbruksteknik, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

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