What Is a Tie Stall Barn?

A tie stall barn is a commonly available housing system designed for use with dairy cattle, particularly those in smaller dairy herds. Knowing the features, characteristics and general design of a tie stall barn can help you determine if this type of housing system will work well for your dairy cattle operation.

The Facts

Tie stall barns contain an individual tie stall for each adult milking cow; each tie stall consists of a long narrow stall that is just wide enough for a single cow to stand or lay in while secured to a post with a chain or rope. Individual tie stalls are typically separated from each other with a curved metal bar that prevents the cows from shifting or bumping each other. Farmers bed cows on a range of bedding materials, including straw, sawdust, shredded newspaper, sand and wood shavings. Although the tie stall portion of the barn consists of one level, these barns often also have an attached second story for hay and grain storage.


The tie stalls in a tie stall barn run in parallel rows separated by concrete feed alleys and walkways. During feeding time, the farmer places a measure of grain, hay or silage in the feed alley in front of each cow's stall and the cows reach their heads through the front of the stalls to consume their feed. Each pair of cow stalls typically has a self-regulated watering system that gives each animal free-choice access to fresh, cold water through water pipes that run along the fronts of the stalls. At the rear of each row of tie stalls lies a long, narrow manure pit; during regular stall-cleaning sessions, the farmer scrapes manure into the pit, which contains a mechanised cleaning belt that moves the manure out of the barn and into a manure spreader for disposal.


A tie stall barn is designed for housing and milking lactating dairy cows, so it comes equipped with a milking system. A steel milk pipeline typically runs along the top edge of all the tie stalls. During milking, the dairy farmer attaches a milking unit hose to the pipeline and then attaches the milking unit to the cow's udder to strip out the milk, which runs through the pipeline into a refrigerated bulk tank where it is cooled rapidly. Depending on economic factors that may cause dairy farming to become unprofitable, some dairy farmers who remove and sell the milking system then use the tie stall barn to contain beef cattle or other animal species.


Cows contained in a tie stall ban must wear neck chains or else you won't be able to secure them in their stalls. Tie stall barns typically work best for dairy farms that have fewer than 100 lactating dairy cows. The milking system in a tie stall barn is extremely labour intensive, because it requires the farmer to move from one cow to another during the milking session. It also typically isn't the most appropriate barn system for older farmers or those who suffer from back problems, since you need to bend over frequently while milking, unlike a parlour milking system, which allows the farmer to stand upright in a concrete pit while milking.

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About the Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. She has produced content for various websites and graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.