The Advantages of Headlocks on Dairy Farms
When planning your dairy facility, it’s important to prioritize herd management. Not only because your systems will affect the animals themselves, but also your routines, labor requirements, and more.
Feedbunk design is especially important on a farm. This design can have a direct impact on your expenses and productivity alike. We most commonly see headlocks, along with post and rail systems or tie stall barns, for feedbunks. But for many farmers building new facilities, or those improving existing ones, it can be challenging to know which feedbunk design is right for them.
Headlocks vs. Post and Rail Systems
Headlocks and post and rail systems are two of the most common feedbunk options. Many are left wondering, which is right for my dairy? We can help break it down for you.
First up: post and rail systems. These systems are flexible and customizable. Because the rail can adjust, the system can accommodate different sized cows. Post and rail systems also tend to have a lower initial cost. One thing to keep in mind though, although there is a lower initial investment, labor costs tend to be higher with this system.
By comparison, headlocks have been shown to decrease labor and day-to-day costs. This is important because labor tends to be the second-highest operational cost on most dairies. Farmers looking for a more cost-effective system may be initially inclined to opt for the post and rail system, but headlocks often offer more cost savings year over year.
Additional Advantages of Headlocks
Following milking, headlocks allow you to better treat animals in a space that is familiar to them while they continue to eat, saving you time and your animals’ stress. The animals will also be able to eat uninterrupted and without competition. In fact, research has shown that headlocks reduce competitive interactions and displacement at the feedbunk by 21 percent. Circling back to feedbunk design, headlocks also offer maximum space utilization.
Overall, each system has its advantages, and there’s no clear-cut winner and loser. We’ve experienced the most success with headlocks, but encourage you to do some research. Feel free to reach out to us to learn more!