Three Types of Dairy Farms You Should Know About

Updated: Jun 25



Just like cows come with different breed labels attached, their homes also come in three different types - freestall, drylot, and pasture-based. The type of dairy farm a dairy farmer chooses is more about the comfort of the cow than the lay of the land. Each has its own unique qualities, which is why some cows prefer one over the other. It is quite possible that given the landscape of Shoenberg Farms, the cattle experienced a hybrid of all three types of dairy farm!


Freestall Dairy Farms

The barn is the center focal point of a freestall dairy farm. Coupled with its ventilation systems (which the Shoenberg Farms dairy barn was equipped with) and stall setup, cows are able to come and go in the stalls as they please. With the Colorado heat, these barns allow for a cooler environment thanks to the circulation of fresh air. Likewise, these barns were set up to be great shelter in the chill of the winter months too, acting as a safe, warm space where cows can eat, drink, and basically just chill out - think of it as your living room in your home, where everyone comes to be together!


Drylot Dairy Farms

In drier climates, drylot dairy farms are more vastly seen on the landscapes. The cows who call a drylot dairy farm their home get ample shade, and even fans equipped with misters. They are walked to and from the milking parlor two to three times a day and have free reign of the grounds to eat, drink, and lay around wherever they wish to do so. These farms may even have a structure, aside from a barn where the cows can enjoy the outdoors while still being able to benefit from the shade.


Pasture-Based Dairy Farms

In a more traditional setting, a pasture-based dairy farm is what you are likely to see driving through the countryside in most areas. Although there is ample barn space for the cows and milking, most of the cows remain outdoors when not being milked. They feed on the grass in the pasture, even though they have food and water provided inside the barn. Most days, you might find the pasture-based dairy farm cows just enjoying themselves in the outdoor air, only returning to the milking parlor for milking or the main barn for shelter from inclement weather.


The Dairy Farm Setup at Shoenberg Farms

From all historical information gathered, we know that Shoenberg Farms dairy barn had ample ventilation for the cows, much like a freestall dairy farm environment. Colorado, as a state, is considered a dry climate, despite its overall seasonal coolness. The grounds facilitate both a drylot and pasture-based setting for the cows, and given the size of the herd that lived on the farm in the early 1900s, it is possible that the farm was more of a combination of these dairy farm classifications to accommodate the needs of the cows. To find out more about the Shoenberg Farms Restoration Project, including the Dairy Barn - visit the Restoration Page to learn more about the great things coming to the Westminster community!


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