Here’s 5 things to consider this January when it comes to cattle housing…
- The obvious one – how comfortable are your cubicles? By providing a comfortable cubicle, cows are more likely to lie down for longer. Since a positive correlation has been found between increased lying times and higher milk yields, making sure your cubicles are as comfortable as can be is key to an efficient herd. Read our recent blog with Wilson Agri to find out when it’s time to replace your mats or mattresses.
- Is there still enough space for all your cows to lie down together at the same time? When given the opportunity, cows will display synchronous behaviour – such as lying down together. Having space for all cows to lie down at the same time will allow for this natural behaviour – and reduce any aggression within the herd caused by overstocking.
- How clean are the passageways? Manually scraping out or running auto-scrapers at regular intervals keeps passageways clean, and prevents muck being dragged onto cow beds. Be aware of keeping feet clean, especially when using auto-scrapers which create a wave of slurry. If not regularly cleaned out, lower leg muck often ends up on the udder when cows sit, leading bacteria to end up on the teat ends. Save time wiping and attaching clusters in the parlour (and risk of mastitis) by keeping legs and feet clean.
- Is bedding doing its job? Evaluate your bedding material or cubicle conditioner. Is it keeping cubicles dry enough between applications? Are you spreading too much or too little? If cows aren’t clean, could it be that you need to bed more frequently? We recommend twice daily, or at each milking time. Whatever you use to top cow beds should be soft, comfortable, and absorbent – to keep udders clean and dry, and prevent mastitis.
- If cubicles are already as comfortable as they can be, and bedding is well managed – look for alternative ways to allow longer lying times. eg. by minimising waiting time in the collection yard, or ensuring there’s plenty of space at the feed barrier to prevent ‘queuing’.
We hope this gives you some inspiration or thoughts on how you can improve cow comfort and efficiency this coming year. Why not ask our team about how you can improve cow comfort with bedding or cubicle conditioner when you next speak with them – or Livechat us now to find out more…
Some information above adapted from the AHDB DairyCo Dairy Housing – A best practice guide (2012). You can read the most updated versions on the AHDB Knowledgebase here.