Original article by Dr Salah Hamed Esmail
Although much work has been done to investigate the effects of various environmental factors on animal health and performance, seldom was the effect of the house floor taken into account.
In this article we review some flooring systems used for cattle kept indoors and the advantage of each system in terms of animal health, behavior and performance compared to the traditional concrete floors.
Ordinary concrete floors
Poor concrete surfaces cause a high incidence of lameness, sole ulcer, and white line disease. Much of these problems may, however, be alleviated with the fine line between a concrete floor surface that is too rough and causes injury due to abrasion and one that is too smooth and causes injury because of inadequate footing. The other factors contributing to these problems such as genetics, nutrition, and environment should in the meantime be duly considered.
2 theories exist regarding the grooved concrete:
The rubber coating on the floor
In a study conducted at the University of Hohenheim in Germany, it was found that covering the floors of the barns with sheets of soft rubber that mimics the soil of the pastures helps to achieve the following advantages compared to solid concrete floors:
When using sand as a bedding material, 2 points should be considered:
Bedding with crop residues such as wheat straw may provide substantial benefits during periods of the year when cold stress can cause increased maintenance requirements and decreased performance.
The straw material also acts as a sponge and retains a large amount of urine which is the main source of ammonia, thereby reducing health problems and pollution of the environment. Economically, an additional value is captured from the extra nutrients in the manure which is used for fertilizer, either in the raw or composted state. If the cost of N is $ 0.66/kg and the use of bedding can retain extra 3.2kg of N per ton of fresh manure, then a producer can realize about $ 2.10 more N fertilizer value per ton of manure. These estimates were made around 13 years ago but may follow the same trends when adjusted to the current price situation.
Several flooring systems have been developed for supporting animal comfort, health, and production and facilitating animal management indoors. Each of these systems has its own advantages but may be disadvantageous if improperly used or selected. The choice of any of these systems depends largely on the cost, climatic condition, availability of the floor material to be used, and its capacity to meet specific health and production targets. It also depends on the production level of cattle and whether they are economically responsive so as to justify the costs invested in each floor system.
Originally published on September 7, 2019 on dairyglobal.net