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					          Minnesota Dairy Days



Soft Organic Bedding Surfaces
       That Cows Like

          Marcia I. Endres
           Jim A. Salfer




   What cows have told us…
• Cow prefer surfaces that provide
  cushion and traction

• Cows prefer deep bedded sawdust
  and sand over mattressesTucker   et al. JDS 2003




                                                     1
     Compost Barn Research

• Lots of interest on this housing system
• Appear to offer great traction & cushion
  for the cows
• Many questions about the system
• First step – learn more about them by
  collecting data from current operations




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                                  Space per Cow
                  160
                                                      Avg = 90.2 ft2/cow
                  140
                  120
                  100
sq ft/cow




                       80
                       60
                       40
                       20
                        0
                            1    2    3   4   5   6   7    8   9 10 11 12

                                                  Farm




                            Lameness Prevalence
                       25
                                Avg = 7.8% lame
                       20
        % Prevalence




                       15

                       10

                        5

                        0
                            1     2   3   4   5   6    7   8   9 10 11 12

                                                  Farm




                                                                            8
                      Somatic Cell Counts
                   700
                              Avg = 325,000
                   600
  1,000 cells/mL



                   500
                   400
                   300
                   200
                   100
                     0
                          1     2   3   4   5    6     7   8   9   10 11

                                                Farm




                               Cost per cow
                   1800
                              Avg = $1,200.43
                   1600
                   1400
                   1200
$ per cow




                   1000
                    800
                    600
                    400
                    200
                      0
                          1     2   3   4   5    6     7   8   9   10 11

                                                Farm




                                                                           9
Alternative Stall Surfaces




 I prefer a soft
 place to lie down




                     Outside row - mattresses
                     Inside row – deep bedding




                                                 10
                          I’m
                         really
                      comfortable




            Remodeling

• Removed loops and
  mattresses
• Dug out clay
• Removed brisket board
  and concrete
• Packed tires ½ full of
  clay, starting 15 inches
  from back of stall




                                    11
         Remodeling Details:

• Sloped tires from
  front to rear
• Cost – Mostly
  labor
  – If $10/hr labor
    charge $6.40/stall
• Might not use tires
  again




      So… What Did This Mean for
        Production and Health???



                                   $




                                       12
           Herd Production Results
• Milk production increased about 2 lbs

Somatic Cell Counts:
• 2004 – averaged 275,000 cells/mL
• 2005 – averaged 226,000 cells/mL

      Outbreak of Klebsiella in summer of 2005
      Started adding 10% ag lime to the bedding mix




           Hoof Health Comparison
                                          Monthly     Yearly
Item                    2004     2005     Savings     Savings
Cows, No                 319      330
Trimming,avg,mo        $728.00 $701.45      $26.55    $318.55
 Sole Ulcer, avg. mo    $13.75   $7.27       $6.48     $77.73
Abscess, avg,mo         $24.17    $8.18     $15.98    $191.82
Blocks,   avg mo         $3.75    $1.36      $2.39     $28.64
                                          TOTAL       $616.73
Percent cows wrapped decreased            41.85%
Percent cows lame decreased               39.92%




                                                                13
                 Cull and Death Rate
                                                       Yearly
  Item                     2004        2005            Savings
  Cows, No                  319         330
  Cows Culled                98            82           $11,412.801
  Cows Died                  28            9          $22,800.002
1Average   cost/cull cow        $713.30                     Total
2Average   cost/head for deaths $1200.00              $34,212.80

                                   2004 cull rate = 39%
                                   2005 cull rate = 28%




                 Cow Comfort Index1
    Item                      Pen          2004         2005
    Heifers                    1           63%           73%

    Mature Cows                2           48%           69%

    Mature Cows                3           78%           97%
    High SCC                   4           74%           90%
    Fresh Pen                  8           50%           80%
                           Average         63%           82%
 1 Cow Comfort Index – Percentage of cows touching a stall that are
 lying down in stalls




                                                                      14
         Bedding Management
Proper bedding management is
crucial for success
Currently use “dairy
blend” bedding
 – Oat hulls, shavings,
   sawdust
 – Mix with 10% ag
   lime in the TMR
   mixer




         Bedding Management

Stalls are bedded every 3 days

Soiled bedding is
completely cleaned
from all stalls at
every milking using
a landscape rake




                                 15
  Herd Owner’s Observations
• Cows prefer deep bedded stalls
  over mattress stalls
• Less swollen hocks and leg
  injuries
• Cows are cleaner
• Cows are more mobile




                                   16
            Conclusions
• Compost barns and deep bedded
  stalls can be comfortable
  alternatives for dairy cows
• They require optimum management
  to work properly
• Special attention should be given to
  milking prep procedures




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