12 May 1995

Advice on bedding

CHOPPED straw should be avoided at all costs when bedding concrete cubicles, says dairy consultant John Hughes.

"When the cow has got up you can see neat holes in the straw where the knees and hock were," he said. "When these joints are exposed lesions and other sores develop quickly, laming the cow and impairing her performance."

His own research had shown that 11% of cubicles had next to no bedding, 63% had too little, and only 26% provided satisfactory protection and comfort.

Those producers with little cash and/or starting up would do well to consider as a cubicle surface 150mm (6in) of good clay mixed with chopped straw, he suggested.

As for mats, Mr Hughes recommended Encomats, although he said they were expensive at £55/bed. But solid rubber mats at the lower end of the market were "useless and dangerous" for rubber was destroyed by fat – found in milk, muck and sweat – and sunlight.

When fitting a mat Mr Hughes recommended 50mm (2in) was left at the back and side of the cubicle to allow the mats to stretch.