The application for the construction of a dairy barn of the future, submitted by the IGG network (Innovations for healthy and "happy" cows), was finally approved at the end of 2021 - now the construction can begin, which is intended to contribute to answering innovative research questions in the field of animal welfare, as well as to the development of "dairy barns of the future" in practice. The IGG network consists of seven partner institutes (FBN, LBZ Echem, TiHo Hannover, Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences, LfULG Sachsen, LfL Grub and FLI Riems), with the FBN taking on the coordination. The "barn of the future" is being designed with a view to the animal's needs in terms of its housing environment, its behaviour and its sensory perceptions. The innovative barn facility will be used both as an experimental barn and as a model farm for dairy farming - this means that the results of the research can also be tested directly in practice. In addition to the "barn of the future", which will be built at the FBN in Dummerstorf, part of the LfL's "Vario barn" is also to be built at the Grub site, which will complement the "barn of the future". In the "Vario-Stall", the focus is on the different needs of the animals with regard to the use of various resources, such as feed supply and space requirements. In addition, each barn will house a different breed of cattle, which will also allow comparative research projects to be carried out.
It will probably take another three years until the "barn of the future" is completed; the planning phase of the construction is currently beginning, which already takes into account the most important findings from the research: For example, the light conditions in the barn will be optimally adapted to the cattle's ability to adapt, a climate concept will be developed to avoid heat stress, feeding will be automated and furthermore designed so that the animals can eat undisturbed and regardless of their rank within the herd. All these measures are intended to contribute to stress reduction. The cattle in the "barn of the future" will also be allowed to choose freely all year round whether they want to be indoors or outdoors. Dairy cows and calves will live together in family herds at all ages and stages of lactation, so that the calves will be raised mother-bound. The first construction work for the "barn of the future" at the FBN is expected to be able to start in autumn 2022, and the project will not only include barn construction, but also research projects. These research projects will address issues such as precision dairy farming systems, the auditory perception of cows and mother-bound rearing.