Improved Cow Management with Mats
Larger dairy herds, growing local demand for milk from cows raised on pasture, and wetter springs and falls all increase the risk that dairy cows sent out to pasture will trample turf or soil into mud; especially in high traffic areas on the farm and around the barns.
The presence of mud not only increases a dairy cow’s nutrient requirements (walking in mud requires more energy), but it also increases the risk of cows slipping and injuring themselves. Furthermore, muddy cows are more time-consuming for the farmer as they need to be cleaned before milking; dirt increases the risk of a high bacterial content in the milk.
Thankfully researchers at the Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (JTI) are investigating whether heavily-trodden spots on the farm can be strengthened with bark and reinforcing mats to avoid any issues with mud. Together with researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, JTI is working on the project to “Fight Against Trampling”!
The aim of the project is simple, develop economical and sustainable solutions that can reduce the problem of mud in the spring and fall in high traffic areas. Less mud not only results in cleaner cows, improved animal welfare and lower bacterial content in the milk, it also creates a better working environment for those who look after the animals. Furthermore, less mud also reduces the risk that manure or soil get washed out into nearby watercourses.
To date, strengthening tests have been carried out with bark and reinforcing mats at a research centre outside Uppsala, Sweden. The mats consist of synthetic material and a layer of geotextile membrane between the mat and the earth. Once completed, the results of this research will provide recommendations on how strengthening alternatives should best be used, as well as the cost of installing and maintaining them. Watch this space…
For more information about this research, or if you have any questions regarding improved herd management, please contact us.