Animal Welfare Research Needs for Dairy Cattle

Following is a list of research priorities gaps identified during the dairy cattle Code development process. Click here to visit the dairy cattle Code web page for the Scientific Committee report and to view the full Code.

List compiled: 2009

Accommodation, Housing and Handling Facilities

  • Housing and management needs for heifers and dry cows
  • Acceptable ammonia levels in dairy barns (the current code references human health standards)
  • Optimal designs for tie stalls
  • A comparison of post-and-rail feed bunk barriers, slant-bar feed barriers, and head locks at feed bunks – cow outcomes and labor outcomes
  • A comparison of sweep-in feed bunks to bunks with a barrier to retain feed within reach of cows and heifers
  • The effects of level floors and sloped floors in alleyways – cow outcomes and practical considerations related to cleaning, cleanliness and slipperiness of the floors
  • Dimensions of free stalls for replacement dairy heifers (Holstein and Jersey)
  • Identify the ideal slope for the bed in a stall with a mattress

Feed and Water

  • Effects of cold water (direct from the well temperature) for milking cows and heifers
  • Optimal milk temperature for calf feeding
  • The effects of feeding milk replacers according to label directions
  • Optimal growth rate for calves to maximize growth and health

Health and Welfare Management

  • The impact of exercise on the health and welfare of growing calves
  • Appropriate feeding and weaning techniques to prevent inter-suckling amongst Jersey calves

Husbandry Practices

  • Appropriate management techniques for larger groups of calves


  • Appropriate age of transport for unweaned calves