Lying down and other behavioural activities of dairy cows were studied for three 24-hour periods in a straw yard. The cows spent a total of 13.6 hours in the straw yard and lay down for 9.7 hours. The lying down time in one observation was 10.8 hours and this period may be considered ideal because there was little disturbance during that observation. Significantly more time was spent lying down at night than in the day and significantly more time was spent lying down and ruminating than standing up and ruminating. The total time spent lying down was significantly positively correlated with the time spent lying down and ruminating. Ten hours or more spent lying down may be adequate for proper rest in dairy cattle. Straw yards are better than many cubicles for lying and a longer period spent lying down may be important for the prevention of lameness in dairy cows.