The continious debate- free stall or tie stall

Animal welfare issues are a serious matter and until recently I did not know that the public considered free stall and tie stall dairy barns to be one of these issues.  On my home farm we house our cows in a tie stall set up, as we have a small to medium size herd.  Other farmers, particularly larger dairy herds choose to run their operations in what is called a free stall barn.  I started thinking about the pros and cons of each method and here is what I have come up with off the top of my head:

Pros- Tie Stall Barn                                                                            Cons- Tie Stall Bar

Cows stay clean and dry                                                          Cows are stationary for long time periods

Able to keep better watch over cows                                  More labour intensive for farmers

Pros- Free Stall Barn                                                               Cons- Free Stall Barn

Animals are able to move around                                           Animals tend to be not as clean (dirt and mud)

Not as labour intensive for farmers                                        Harder to keep a close eye on cows

These are my personal opinions which I have formulated through my experience in the dairy industry.  I believe that the animal welfare issue is not about the operation set-up but how the animals are treated in each environment.  I know that in our tie stall the cows do not have the ability to walk around as they please but they are extremely comfortable and we treat them with care and respect.

Example of a free stall dairy barn

Example of a tie stall dairy barn

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