Bedding

Bed surface and bedding material

bedding

There are several critical factors that must be considered when planning free stall surfaces. The surface must be durable and easily maintained, it must be well drained and/or resilientĀ to water, It should not be slippery and should give secure footing to prevent potential injuries. The flooring should be soft and comfortable rather than hard, cold and damp. The surface should be made of inert material so pathogenic organisms will not grow. The cog of the surface has to be considered relative to its potential for reducing or increasing animal injuries.

There are various recommendations for tied-up and loose housing systems. The main one is that the cow stands and lies down on the same flooring. For this reason, cow mat solutions for tied-up systems should provide soft bedding and support solid standing.

A hard or uncomfortable bed surface is detrimental for cow lying and rising behaviour; lame cows are especially sensitive to the material used as it can hinder their ability to do so. They will avoid lying and rising if their bed is hard because it is painful. Cook (2004; 2006) demonstrated this in studies where the use of sand particularly benefited mildly lame cows, rather than unyielding harder surfaces, due to its ability to supply cushion and traction that allowed the cows to rise and lie down more easily without fear of slipping. Cook therefore recommends the use of sand to improve stall use and thereby promote resting time and good claw health. The most common bedding materials worldwide are sand, straw, sawdust and lime. Research shows that cows prefer sand for lying down in the stalls, but mattresses are close behind. If switching over to sand bedding, please bear in mind that all manure handling equipment needs to be adjusted for sand, because sand and manure should be separated. The main disadvantages of sand are cost and availability. Sand is more expensive than other materials and is not available in all regions.

Organic bedding materials contain carbon, which is food for bacteria (including those of infectious hoof diseases). But carbon is not sufficient to support bacteria growth by itself. Bacteria also need warm temperatures (close to body temperature) and moisture (from leaking milk, urine, manure or wet feet). If one of these conditions isn’t available, bacterial growth will be limited. As we can’t control either of these conditions, bedding treatment can be used to inhibit bacterial growth and prevent transmission of infectious hoof diseases. Cow mattresses are a good bedding type for barns. Try to use adequate straw, sawdust or hygienic bedding material. This will keep the bedding clean and dry, depress bacterial growth and keep the cows clean for easier milking.

Bedding treatment

beddingtreatment

A bedding treatment with good slip resistance can be added to areas of particular concernĀ for extra grip and moisture absorption. This can be especially important in feed passages and around water troughs where the floor is often wet. A bedding treatment will also stick to the hooves and help to dry them. Bedding treatment can be added to the rear third of the cubicle to help to absorb moisture on the bed as well as the hooves. If it is slip-resistant, it can also serve as grip for rising or lying, which is particularly useful for lame cows.