With dairy cattle housed throughout the Winter period, it’s crucial that their environment promotes optimum health, good welfare and productivity.
Here are some important considerations which in turn will have a positive impact on cattle health:
The air in any type of housing should be fresh and free-flowing without being draughty at animal height. If air is moving through too quickly, it can lower temperature and require cows to use more energy to keep warm, needing more feed etc. However, not enough air flow and it may go stagnant, allowing for a build up of moisture and pathogens. Strong ammonia smells can indicate poor fresh-air flow – made worse by dirty bedding and low slurry scraping frequency.
Preventing excess build up of moisture will reduce bacteria and virus survival, and risks of transmitting infection. Speak with your housing specialists about optimal building design to stop too much moisture developing. In very damp weather, more bedding than usual may be required to keep cubicles and livestock dry. You can read more about some of our products, which has been designed to be highly absorbent and work well in your slurry systems here.
Housing should be developed with cattle welfare in mind – ultimately allowing livestock to express their normal behaviour (as per the 5 freedoms of animal welfare) with enough space, access to food and water, comfortable space to rest naturally, in an environment which makes them feel safe.
Cubicle size, flooring type and feed passages all contribute to cow welfare. Flooring should offer firm footing to enable cattle to move around confidently.
Finally, if considering a new building, you’ll of course be taking into consideration a design which allows for regular and effective cleaning – scraping of passageways and cubicles, to maintain good hoof health, air quality and cow cleanliness.
Speak with your housing specialists about how you can optimise cow welfare this Winter in new or existing sheds. For advice about keeping cattle and cubicles clean and dry – get in touch with the Platts team here to find the best option for your setup.