Brisket board and head rail

The purpose of the brisket board is to position the cow correctly when she is lying down. When the board is correctly located, it will prevent the cow lying too far forward which can lead to soiling on the cubicle bed.

The brisket board should not be more than 10cm in height from the cubicle base The height of the board is important as naturally the cow will often swing her leg forward before rising. It is felt that 10cm is the maximum height the leg can be swung without risk of impact.

The board should be angled towards the front of the cubicle to allow for the natural shape of the cow's neck. There is general agreement that the distance from the rear edge of the brisket board to the rear kerb should be 1.6-1.8m, with indications that the greater figure is more suitable.

The purpose of the head rail is to position the cow when she enters the cubicle, before she reclines. The position of the head rail needs to be correct, both horizontally and vertically. If it is too far forward on the partition, when the cow is standing with four feet on the cubicle, she can soil the back of the bed. If it is too close to the kerb, it will limit the occupancy of the cubicle and lead to cows perching (two feet on the cubicle and two feet in the passage).

If the head rail is mounted too low, it can cause injury to the cow when she reclines and rises.  Restrictive head rail position prevents cows standing in cubicles but helps keep the base clean.

It is now suggested that for cows weighing between 650 to 800kg, the height of the head rail should be placed between 1.22 and 1.32m above the base of the cubicle bed.

As with head rail height, as cows become larger the horizontal distance from the head rail to the rear kerb needs to take this into account. Therefore, the horizontal distance may vary between 1.6 and 1.8m but up to 1.9m for herds with larger cows.

The diagonal measurement from the head rail to the kerb should be between 2.1 and 2.2m.