The pros and cons of keeping cows in barns will be weighed up and closely analysed by scientists at Massey University over the next three years.
The university has built a $1.3 million free-stall barn on one of its research farms in Manawatu that will accomodate between two and three hundred cows throughout the research trial.
Lead scientist Mike Hedley says they'll be analysing the environmental benefits of keeping cows in barns, in terms of the reduced rates of nitrogen leaching, as well as the impacts it has on milk production.
But Professor Hedley says they'll be looking into many other issues too. He says the scientists also want to see if there's a better bedding system for the cows.
He says the problem with traditional sand beds is the sand ends up getting kicked out by the cows, and they'll be experimenting with different amounts of sand to try to figure out what works best.
He says he believes more cow sheds will be used in the dairy industry - particularly in Otago and Southland.