Method for comparing current versus recommended housing conditions in dairy cattle production
The objective of the study was to propose a method to assess how well some housing conditions in barns meet national standards and recommendations. The key element of the method was to investigate the index of technical standards fulfilment (ITSF), which shows differences between current housing conditions created by barn facilities and some standards. The lower differences are expressed by higher ITSF value, whereas the index values range from 0 to 1. Data collected in 38 dairy farms (with tie-stall and freestall housing systems) were used for the ITSF index analyses. The ITSF index values for the two compared housing systems were calculated for measurements carried out in four zones in each barn: lying, social, feeding and milking areas. There were higher average ITSF index values for the freestall system than for the tie-stall housing system across all investigated zones included in the barns. Investigations can support farmers to improve some conditions of dairy production in the barns including consciousness of some standards on dairy facilities and cow comfort.