Positioning a cow track

When  deciding on a route for your new cow track there are a number of things to keep in mind. Work through our checklist to make sure you’ve thought of everything.

Back to: Cow tracks

Checklist for positioning your cow track

Before deciding on the route for your new cow track, consider the layout of your farm. Start with a farm map and work out the best position for your tracks, even if they won’t all be installed straightaway.

Here’s a checklist of points to consider when deciding how to position your cow tracks:


Does the track need to service all areas of the farm? Think about your cropping patterns so that your track gets maximum use.


A 5 m track, of which 4 m is surfaced, will enable good flow for up to 200 cows. Each additional 100 cows requires an extra 1 m width.


Avoid siting your tracks in hollows, as uneven surfaces require more maintenance.


Try to make sure your tracks aren’t going to be in heavy shade. A south-facing side of a hedge is better, if you have the choice.


Is the proposed track on a slope? The gradient may determine the type of surface used. On sloping land, follow contours wherever possible.


The maximum gradient for a track with a loose surface can be up to 12%, but it should ideally be no more than 8%.


To save materials, the track should be designed and planned to run the shortest route from A to B.


Keep the distance walked per day to a minimum, as the greater the distance, the more energy used and the less available for milk production.


Fences alongside the tracks need to allow cows to use the full width of the track.

See: Cow track fences


Avoid sharp turns or narrow areas in your track, as this may cause bottlenecks.


Maintain a suitable buffer between the track and any watercourse. If the track is to run , seek advice from the Environment Agency, which must be consulted for works in, over, under or adjacent to rivers. You may also need Internal Drainage Board (IDB) consent for tracks next to a watercourse.


Check with the landowner and/or local authority about planning issues. Your choice of track materials may affect permissions needed.

See: Cow track materials


Avoid areas of wildlife interest and sites of archaeological or historical importance. Check whether any consents are needed.

Field boundaries

If possible, position your track alongside field boundaries rather than directly across the middle of a field.

Ideally, visit several different farms with cow tracks to see how they are working in practice and how you could modify them for use on your farm.

A good spot for mobility scoring?

One more consideration is whether a suitably placed cow track can also be the ideal place to mobility score the herd as they go out to or in from pasture. Doing this will give you an indication of the track's performance as well as the herd’s mobility. Regular scoring can help to identify cows in the first stages of a lameness problem and therefore early effective intervention and treatment.

Useful links

Find out about the advantages of cow tracks

Learn how cows behave on a cow track

Learn about materials for your cow track

Discover how to design and build a cow track

Find out more about maintaining a cow track

Learn about draining your cow track

Find out how to calculate cow track costs

Learn how to fence a cow track

Download the Cow tracks guide

AHDB has a number of technical resources for you to use on farm and in the office. If you would like to order a hard copy of Cow tracks, please contact:


Telephone: 0247 799 0069

Alternatively, you can order online using the form below:

Dairy order form