Bedding choice directly influences cow comfort, but the decision on which material to put underneath cows must consider several other factors, such as cost, availability, ease of handling, udder health, pathogen growth and more.
Use the following list of pros and cons to sort through the options for making the best beds on your dairy.
Originally published in Progressive Dairyman February 11, 2019.
Dairy cows spend 12 to 14 hours a day lying down. Ensuring they have adequate space and comfort for lying leads to healthier, cleaner cows producing higher quality milk. Dairy farmers can achieve this by focusing on goals related to cows, management and comfort:
1) Our goal for cows
2) Our management goal
3) Our comfort goal
Originally appeared in Progressive Dairyman January 21, 2019.
Promoting a surface on which cows want to lie down is about more than just comfort. The bedding material a dairy chooses plays a critical role in preventing mastitis, reducing injury, regulating temperature and fitting into the overall management system.
One measure of bedding quality is the concentration of environmental pathogens, which play a role in milk quality and are major causes of mastitis – clinical and subclinical. Environmental pathogen concentrations are impacted by the dry matter and pH of the bedding materials. As bedding dry matter increases, the concentration of environmental pathogens decreases, and as the pH of the bedding material increases, environmental pathogen concentrations increase.