Click on “Download PDF” for the PDF version or on the title for the HTML version.
If you are not an ASABE member or if your employer has not arranged for access to the full-text, Click here for options.
SOFT WALKING AREAS IN LOOSE HOUSING SYSTEMS FOR DAIRY COWS
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org
Citation: Pp. 171-177 in Fifth International Dairy Housing Proceedings of the 29-31 January 2003 Conference (Fort Worth, Texas USA) 701P0203.(doi:10.13031/2013.11618)
Authors: Thomas Jungbluth, Barbara Benz and Hermann Wandel
Keywords: Animal behavior, animal health, dairy housing, flooring material
Lameness is a complex economic and welfare problem in dairy cattle which is directly linked to
the flooring in loose housing systems. Mobility is the most important prerequisite for the smooth
operation of such system. Foot lameness is due to several factors, but the permanent excessive
strains on the sole combined with poor horn quality are key issues. In addition, slippery floors
impede normal locomotion.
(Download PDF) (Export to EndNotes)
This study was based on the working hypothesis that soft rubber mats improve claw health and
slip resistance. The elastic rubber mats selected were installed in two freestall dairy houses: the
experimental farm of the University of Hohenheim and a commercial farm. Animal behaviour and
claw diagnosis were recorded, with biological and ethological parameters, in three steps: firstly, on
concrete slatted floors, secondly, on slatted floors covered with rubber mats and thirdly again on
concrete slatted floors.
The results concerning animal behaviour and claw health confirmed the working hypothesis. Less
slipping was detected on soft floors. Step length on the soft slatted floors was similar to that
measured on pastures. Activity and walking speed increased on the soft floors, indicating that
cows showed confidence on soft floors. Claw diagnosis, divided into 5 severities ranging from 1
(very slight) to 5 (very severe), was the most important parameter for the comparison between
hard and soft floors. Claw health was significantly improved on soft slatted floors compared with
the usual slatted floors.
The experiment showed that soft floors favour the requirements for the correct functioning of the
claw and unimpeded cow behaviour.