Description of the facility-based parameters determined by direct observation or measured in five areas of the free stalls on 73 dairy farms in north-western Spain 

Area Parameters (N of levels) Description of continuous parameters/levels of categorical parameters Median Min–max
RestingStall stocking densityNumber of cows/number of stalls×100 (%):9855–186
Stall dimensions (as described in Fig 1)Bed width (cm)12090–135
Bed length (cm)18560–230
Brisket locator height (cm)205–50
Total stall length (cm)240200–325
Low lateral bar (cm)300–70
High lateral bar (cm)6020–90
Neck rail height (cm)11590–140
Neck rail position (cm)16585–190
Front lunge space (cm)600–115
Rear curb height (cm)2815–40
Brisket locator presenceConcrete/board/tube/bedding material85% yes15% no
Slope of platformSlope towards the rear64% yes36% no
Stall location (3)85% head to head platform12% against a side wall3% both combined
Design of dividers (4)45% Italian21% Michigan18% ’U' loop16% wide span
Type of bedding material (4)45% rubber mats29% Sand/straw/strawdust18% No bedding8% mattresses
Bedding material dryness (2)“knee test”- dry after 3 seconds kneeling on bedding material52% yes48% no
WalkingSurface characteristics (3)Concrete: assessed by grazing with booted footFlat (22%): 4 rough/8 slippery/4 unclassified
Slatted (21%): 13 slipperyGrooved (58%): 4 slippery
Dirty alleysManure evenly covered the floor at a depth of at least 2 cm (16%)
Rubber on the floorMilking parlour (n=2)Feeding alley (n=1)
Alley width100% feeding alley (cm)400240–500
96% back alley (cm)3000–620
95% crossovers (cm)16090–350
85% crossovers curb (cm)255–40
Blocked alleysMobile fences and/or chains obstructing linear circulation within a pen of groups of cows (18%)
FeedingFeed bunk characteristicsAssessed by grazing with booted foot: 26% smooth (26%)74% rough (worn)
Feed bunk heightDifference between cow platform to feeding platform height (cm)100–50
Feed bunk space/cowHeadlock’s width (cm)6550–70
Feed bunk stocking densityNumber of cows/number of headlocks×100 (cm)9650–178
Lighting at feed bunkVisual perception, feed bunk lighter than the rest of the barn51% yes49% no
Trough characteristics54% metallic with a draining system39% concrete troughs fixed with a drain8.2% a combination of the previous two
Linear watering space/cowTotal length from all accessible sides/number of cows (cm)8.42.6–32
Covered feed bunkRoof covering the feed bunk100% yes0% no
VentilationSigns of poor ventilationHumidity and/or cobwebs (>1m2 roof) and smell of ammonia33% yes67% no
Roof insulationInsulation materials12% yes88% no
Open ridgeGap in the roof for natural ventilation, dividing the 2 ceilings0% yes100% no
Open sides and heightGap on side wall barn and measurement of the gap (cm)14620–300
Roof heightMeasure from the floor to the middle of the roof (cm)700400–1000
MilkingArea before milking parlour2.7% walkway or release area74% holding area
Holding area space/cowWidth×width/number of cows fitting in the parlour (cm)1.20.7–1.7
Floor characteristics in holding areaSlope (%): difference in height/length×10020–15
Grooved floor - parallel lines23% yes77% no
Entrance door width, direct to the parlour or by holding area (cm)250100–800
Milking area designStraight design: cows can see the parlour from the holding area55% yes45% no
49% non-linear paths (≥2 turns: turns ≥90° at parlour entrance or exit)
Exit door width, from milking parlour to alley (cm)11090–300