High Quality Cubicle Bedding and Hygiene is important
Mastitis results in discarded milk, medication, vet charges and premature culling. Even somatic cell counts of 250,000 will typically reduce annual herd yield by around 150 litres of milk. Mastitis and high somatic cell counts cost the average producer over £50 per cow per year more than the top 25% of producers.
Cow comfort is very important, every additional hour lying will increase milk yield by up to 1 litre. Generally the longer that cows are lying rather than standing the lower the incidence of lameness.
It is essential that bedding is dry and clean and with low levels of bacterial contamination. This means that bedding should always be stored in dry conditions. If bedding is warming in store then moisture levels are too high and bacteria are multiplying. Bacteria only multiply in warm, damp conditions. Consequently ventilation can play a major role in preventing multiplication of bacteria on beds by removing moisture and heat from buildings, reducing humidity and allowing beds to dry.
It is important that bedding materials should be clean, dry, soft and absorbent. Hock abrasions and damage to skin which allow pathogenic bacteria to enter the cows body are a major source of infection and lameness.
Cubicle Bedding should be clean, dry, absorbent and non-abrasive
Dry Beds, Absorbent Bedding Materials and Cow Comfort
Most dairy farmers will use an absorbent bedding material to soak up excess moisture and to keep the beds dry. Deep sand or straw beds are often used or thin layers of chopped straw or sawdust are spread on top of a variety of surfaces including concrete, rubber mats and mattresses. Waste paper bedding materials may be used but do have a tendency to set like concrete when they become wet resulting in very hard uneven beds and can be abrasive resulting in hock damage and infections. Sawdust and straw are probably the most widely used bedding materials but both suffer from their own disadvantages.
Straw cannot be used in many situations, due to blocking slats and the formation of thick crusts on slurry stores. Sawdust is very variable from fine dust which sticks to hooves like concrete, to coarse abrasive material which can result in hock infections and lameness. Both sawdust and chopped straw float and form crusts on slurry and both can be very dusty products to apply and as a farmer pointed out to me "Dust is good for neither man nor beast".
Whilst both straw and sawdust are effective in soaking up moisture, both are slow to dry. Damp sawdust is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Consequently if bacteria are to be controlled sawdust needs to be dry and enough sawdust needs to be used to soak up moisture and to keep cows clean. In addition application of an effective long lasting disinfectant powder will help to control bacterial growth on the sawdust.
Sand can be very effective in deep beds, since it is inert and doesn't contain organic matter. Sand is not particularly absorbent, but if clean sand does becomes damp it will not grow bacteria since it doesn't contain organic matter. Most sand used for deep beds is too coarse and abrasive for use on concrete cubicle beds, rubber mats or mattresses. Bedding sand will also settle out of slurry and is unsuitable for use in many UK slurry systems.
Hygiene is Important for Cow Health, Performance and Profitability
Cow comfort, cow health and good hygiene are essential for efficient and profitable milk production in high yielding dairy herds. Richard Webster Nutrition works with a number of different very effective cow cubicle bedding products.
Bulk Bedding Products
Bedding materials delivered in bulk can lead to cost savings where suitable indoor storage and tractor mounted bedding dispensers are available. Generally delivery is on full walking floor vehicles with prices varying according to location.
We have a wide range of different grades of sawdust suitable for animal bedding and available both in bulk or in bags. The cost of sawdust will vary dependent on load size and transport costs to a particular location as well as on the quality and grade of sawdust bedding. Sawdust Bedding
Crushed Oat Husks Bedding
Crushed Husks are a new bedding material suitable for use on dairy cow cubicles. The husks from cereals are processed to produce a light, bulky, dry and absorbent bedding product which is rapidly gaining popularity as anon-abrasive and less dusty alternative to sawdust. Crushed Husks bedding is available in full bulk loads only. Whole Oat Husks are also available for both bedding and for feeding. They are an effective replacement for chopped straw. Whole husks make an excellent alternative to sand in deep bedding systems. Bedding with whole oat husks is less costly than using sand. In addition oat husks are non-abrasive to machinery and do not have the problems of sand settling in cattle slurry.
Shredded Paper makes an excellent, dry, absorbent bedding material for use on cow cubicles. Paper-bed is shredded paper extracted from crushed plasterboard. The product is shredded down to finger nail sized pieces of paper, cleaned and screened to produce a soft open mix. The product is easily handled through a tractor mounted bedding dispenser and very absorbent.
Paper-bed is very competitively priced and available in bulk loads across much of England and Wales. Typical usage rates 2.0kgs - 2.5kgs per cow cubicle per day. With a bedding cost of 6 - 10 pence per cow Paper-Bed beats most other bedding materials. Paper-Bed is available in bulk walking floor loads only.
Bulk Cubicle Bedding Materials can have advantages in terms of costs and handling
Bagged Bedding Products
Sawdust in Bags or Bales
A range of Premium Grade Soft, Kiln Dried, Super absorbent Sawdusts. Including Bagged or Baled fine, Powdered sawdust and clean Sawdust with minimal dust. Available in full or half loads.
RWN Bagged or Baled Sawdust Bedding Products are top quality and offer amongst the best cubicle bedding options.
Wood Ash Bedding
This wood ash comes from a biomass plant which burns timber. The ash is an odourless, dry, strongly alkaline, light grey powder. The ash is well over 95% dry matter and is extremely absorbent, so it is very effective at keeping the cubicle beds dry. The high pH is good for mastitis control and controls bacteria in the same way as hydrated lime. Ash keep conditions around the udder clean and dry.
Ash can be used as a sole bedding agent on cubicle mats and mattresses but is more often mixed with 50% sawdust or other bedding products and applied with a tractor mounted bedding dispenser. The product is very cost effective and there is no need to use cubicle limes / hydrated lime to control bacteria when using this product.
An added advantage is that the Ash contains a range of fertiliser nutrients from the burnt wood and has a fertiliser value similar to the cost of the product. It is very cost effective to use.
Wood Ash Bedding is delivered in tote bags on full artic loads of around 25 tonnes. Ash should be stored indoors and kept dry.
RWN Anti-bacterial Cubicle Bedding Powders
RWN supplies a range of anti-bacterial bedding powders and hydrated lime which may be used alone but are generally used with an absorbent bedding material such as straw or sawdust to control bacteria in cow cubicle housing, straw yards, calf rearing accommodation and dry cow housing.
Whilst these products have different modes of action all are non-caustic, improve hygiene and give effective control of pathogenic bacteria in bedding. Anti-bacterial and Disinfectant Cubicle Powders
RWN Supplies a Wide Range of Bedding Products in Bulk and in Bags
BETTER HYGIENE, HEALTHIER COWS, MORE MILK, LESS CULLING, MORE PROFIT
Cheaper and more effective solutions to hygiene in cubicle housing
For advice on improving cow comfort and hygiene in livestock housing contact Richard Webster