ANIMAL WELFARE UPDATE:
A heads up that from 31st October 2019 there have been some changes to the minimum standards for dairy cattle standing off paddock on hard surfaces. In everyday life cows will spend 10-12 hours lying down. During this time they relax their muscles, chew their cud (ruminate), digest their food and sleep. This is normal behaviour and is necessary for the wellbeing of the cow.
In the revised Dairy Cattle Code of Welfare, cows have a maximum daily time they are allowed to stand off paddock on hard surfaces to recognise their behavioural and physiological needs for lying down on a dry and compressible surface (not bare concrete or stones). This is covered in the code in section 5.4 “Off-Paddock Facilities”. Off-Paddock Facilities are classed as calf sheds, stand-off areas or pads (including long-term or wintering pads) and feed pads.
Minimum Standard No 9 states: where dairy cattle are kept in off-paddock facilities for more than 16 hours a day for more than than three consecutive days they must be provided with a well-drained lying area with a compressible soft surface or bedding that is maintained to avoid manure accumulation, and artificial or natural shelter or other means of minimising the effects of exposure to the weather.
In everyday farming life, this means that after 16 hours, cows standing off need to be provided with somewhere to lie down that has a dry compressible surface eg rubber, bark, or turned back out on the paddock for the remainder of the day. If you are calving cows on off-paddock facilities then the minimum standards state that they must have room to separate themselves, and to lie down on a dry compressible surface. If you would like to read the code, it is available on this link http://bit.ly/dairy-codeofwelfare and your veterinarian will be happy to answer any questions you have.