open yard housing
for young cattle


open yard housing
for young cattle


j.m. hall and r. sansoucy
fao experts

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ISBN 92-5-100860-4

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A. The functions of housing

1. Protection

2. Feeding

3. Watering

4. Isolation

5. Comfort

B. The advantages of open yard housing

1. The system requires less roofed area per animal housed

2. Straw for litter can be economized

3. The system improves labour efficiency

4. The system is more economical to build

5. The system improves hygiene conditions

C. The different systems of open yard housing

1. The unroofed open yard

2. The combined (semi-roofed) system

3. Full roofing

D. Required space and size of lots

1. Room at the feeding-trough

2. Ground area and lot size

a) No-roof open yard

b) Combined system

c) Full roofing

E. Rounds (circuits) which must be respected in livestock housing

1. Feed distribution: feeding passage

2. Manure removal: service passage

3. Circulation of the animals: access door


A. The floor covering

1. Fully open yard

2. The combined system

3. Fully roofing

B. The manger

1. The different materials of the trough

a) The wooden or sheet-iron trough

b) The parpen (breeze-block) or reinforced concrete manger

c) The irrigation-pipe trough

2. The various components of the manger

a) The supports for the irrigation pipes

b) The manger proper

c) Support posts for the withers bar

d) The withers bar

e) The protection bar

C. The drinking-bowl

1. The reservoir-trough

2. Constant-level drinking-bowls

3. The automatic drinking-bowl

D. The actual housing

1. Roofing

2. The shelter wall

3. Permanent fencing

4. Movable fence

E. Handling and care of the animals

1. Handling and holding

a) Fully open yard

b) Combined and fully roofed systems

2. The infirmary

F. Building methods

1. Site preparation

2. Installation of supports

3. Laying the pipes: building the roof

4. Bedding the fence posts

5. Floor covering and fencing

G. Building battery housing

1. Fully open yard housing

2. Semi-and fully roofed systems



There have been substantial changes in the general conception of stable design, particularly housing for young cattle such as feeder bulls and breeding heifers, over the past twenty years.

The explanation for these changes is the desire to cut building costs, and the need to improve working conditions and increase the productivity of those in charge of caring for the livestock.

Open yard housing means leaving the animals free to move from the exercise area to the feeding through to the litter (from movement to feeding to rest areas). This solution has been adopted all over the world for all new constructions for young cattle.

There are a number of possible choices which fall under this general principle. Basically, they concern the kind of protection afforded the animals, how the various components are arranged and how manure is removed and stored.

Since there are so many different possible answers to these problems, the authors selected a limited number of systems which seem to correspond to the climatic conditions of most of the developing countries, the variety of building materials available, and the usual limits to the cattleman's pocketbook.

This report is based on the recent work of a development project in northern Tunisia under the joint execution of FAO, the Office Tunisien de l'Elevage (OEP), and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

The work is in two parts: first a summary of the general principles of open yard housing as applicable to young cattle in most developing countries, and secondly practical construction techniques for the various components of this kind of animal housing.