Source: Melkveebedrijf, oktober 2023
Text: Gerben Hofman, Photo's: Moduulbouw, Martin de Vries, Gerben Hofman
Since 2009, flexible freestall diveders have been on the rise in Dutch dairy farming. Several manufacturers now offer a diverse range of flexible freestall dividers. The dividers vary in shape, size and degree of flexibility. Last spring, Tim Looman, as a student at the Aeres Hogeschool mapped the most common cubicle dividers on the Dutch market. He did this as part of his minor in animal husbandry technology. One of the flexible freestall dividers he studied was the Spinder Fitbox
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Elshof partnership, Oldetrijne (Friesland) "The same dimensions, but still more space for the cow.
The freestall barn of the Elshof partnership from Oldetrijne was equipped with Spinder Fitboxes last summer. "In a large part of the barn, the stalls were from the 90s. These were still on the old sizes with a spacing of 1.10 meters. We wanted to give the cows more room, but at the same time make the best use of the space in the barn. We wanted to grow to 300 cows and our barn had the capacity for that. If we increased the space between the freestall dividers, we would lose capacity. The challenge was therefore to keep the distance between the freestall dividers at 1.10 meters and still improve cow comfort," says Henry Elshof.
Henry Elshof and his father Henk had already tested Easyfix freestall dividers. One disadvantage of these, according to the dairy farmers, is that they are less suitable for deep litter, something they wanted to continue because of good experiences. At the RMV in Hardenberg, the Elshof family was introduced to the Fitbox of Spinder. "This seemed to be the best solution in our case," says Elshof. "The freestall divider is flexible, but also guides the cows. Moreover, it is equally important that the partition is made of relatively thin bars. This leaves more space for the cow. "This way, within the existing space, we can still give the cow more room.
The dairy farmers have had good experiences with deep litter stalls and would like to continue with them. "This freestall divider is very suitable for that. We are using a flax-lime mixture for a while now, but the intention is to switch back to separated manure. Because there is enough space between the bottom bar and the floor, we will soon be able to turn this over mechanically," explains Henry Elshof.
The new cubicles are proving beneficial. "We see that the cows lie down and get up again more easily without touching anything. If cows want to stand, they do so with four feet in the cubicle. This is again positive for claw health.