26 March 1999

Make sure cows have a comfy bed

LYING times are important in the fight against lameness, so cows need a comfortable bed.

Glos vet Roger Blowey told the conference that the freshly calved heifer suffers most. She is milked last and eats last. Fear of bullying or unfamiliarity with cubicles may cause heifers to have short lying times, increasing the time spent standing and stress on their feet.

Encouraging cows to increase lying times in cubicles requires a comfortable bed.

"Weve spent a lot of time looking at the dimensions of cubicles, but the need for comfort is as important. Comfort will lead to higher output.

"You should be able to put your knuckles on a cubicle bed and push them to an arms length. When you are missing skin then there is too little bedding," he said.

Mats and mattresses can be used to add padding, but they need a layer of loose material such as straw and lime to provide lubrication and avoid friction.