Back to basics on slurry pooling

"Slurry depth in buildings is the major influence on digital dermatitis incidences in housed cattle," says DairyCo extension officer Chris Coxon. "This is especially true if the slurry depth is consistently above the coronary band of the cow's foot, generally around 25mm above floor level."

The biggest influences on the depth of slurry in dairy units, regardless of their slurry disposal system, are standing space per cow and frequency of scraping. Wide feed stances and wide cubicle access, as well as actual building layout, are tremendous assets when it comes to combating digital dermatitis.

"Adequate space for the cows is key when it comes to slurry management, whatever the cubicle layout the cow must have a total standing area of at least 4 sq m per cow. "A DairyCo-funded mastitis project recommends cows on loose housing have 1.25 sq m per thousand litres production of lying and standing space," says Mr Coxon.

"In general, for all non slatted floors, a slope of anywhere between 1.5% and 3% to convenient gullies, drains or slatted panels for the length of the building is needed. This will avoid slurry ponding on the feed stance," says Mr Coxon.

"Frequent scraping or cleaning is essential. For tractor-scraped passages scrape at least twice a day when cows are milking, with additional scrapes if the cows can be shut away from the feed stance. For flush systems wash passes at least three times a day with relatively clean water. When using an automatic scrape system make sure passes are scraped every two hours during active times of the day (4am to 10pm) but that little or no scraping takes place overnight in order not to disturb the cows."

To request DairyCo's Minimising slurry pooling in dairy housing call 02476 478695 or email

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