Outdoor cattle grazing
Dairy cows that are usually housed tethered in tie-stall barns must be allowed access to an outdoor exercise yard or pasture in the summer. The requirement also applies to heifers reared for milk production from the age of eight months onwards.
Advice and guidance
Cows must be allowed outdoors for at least 60 days between 1 May and 30 September every summer.
Cows need access to a suitable exercise yard or pasture. A suitable exercise yard is one with at least 6 m2 of space per cow. The minimum area of an exercise yard is 50 m2. The exercise yard or pasture as well as the route there must be safe and comfortable for the animals.
Regional State Administrative Agencies can grant special permission to keep cows indoors in the summer if
- there is no suitable pasture or exercise yard on the farm,
- providing an outdoor space for grazing would place an unreasonable burden on the farmer, or
- compliance with the grazing requirement cannot be achieved without unreasonable inconvenience due to the surrounding transport infrastructure, terrain or distances.
Farmers can be exempted from the grazing requirement for a maximum of three years. The competent Regional State Administrative Agency can withdraw the exemption if circumstances on the farm change.
If you are unable to provide your cattle with an outdoor space for grazing, you can write to your nearest Regional State Administrative Agency and ask for permission to keep your cows indoors in the summer.
There is no application form, so you need to explain your circumstances in your own words. A link to the contact information of Regional State Administrative Agencies’ registries is provided at the bottom of this page.
Make sure that your application includes at least the following information:
- your name, address and telephone number
- your farm ID, the address of your farm and your business ID
- the number of dairy cows and dairy heifers aged at least eight months that you keep tethered on your farm
- the reason why your dairy cows and heifers cannot be allowed outdoors
- the layout of your farm
- a map of any fields and other land on the farm that lie within one kilometre of the barn
- any other relevant information that could influence the Regional State Administrative Agency’s decision.
Requests for exemptions are forwarded to the Regional Veterinary Officer. The applicant may be asked to provide further information.
In some cases, we conduct an inspection on the farm. If an inspection is necessary, we will contact you and arrange a suitable time.
The processing fee is EUR 215. The same fee applies regardless of whether or not an application is successful. We will send you a bill afterwards.
Enforcing the outdoor grazing requirement is the responsibility of local authority veterinary officers. If a farmer is found not to have provided an outdoor space for their cattle, the competent local authority veterinary officer can issue an order or an injunction.
Regional State Administrative Agencies can threaten to fine the farmer if such orders or injunctions are not complied with.