Floors

Floors are generally made of concrete and are a place where slurry accumulates so frequent (two to three times per day) and thorough scraping is required.

All floors must be properly drained and treated in such a way to prevent slipping with a gentle gradient to provide good footing. The slope of the floor should be between 1.5-3%. The floor should provide sufficient slip resistance when covered in slurry, at all times of the year.

Improving traction on floor surfaces

All surfaces on which cows walk should be easily cleaned and provide adequate traction to prevent slipping and falling. The provision of slip-resistant flooring in collecting yards and parlours will also be beneficial.

Parallel grooves should be placed 40mm between centres and the groove should be around 10mm wide to prevent slurry accumulation. The grooves should be 6 to 10mm.

If squares or diamonds are to be used, the pattern should be regular with 40mm sides separated by 10mm wide grooves. Again, the grooves should be 6 to 10mm deep.

Slatted floors

Slatted floors are often seen in passages. It is important that the slats are well constructed with no rough edges or abrasions. The width of the slat and their spacing is a compromise between the provision of adequate support for the cow's foot and effective self-cleaning.

It should be noted that a build up of slurry collected in below ground stores may result in a build up of waste gases such as ammonia, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. Hydrogen sulphide is highly toxic with levels above 50ppm known to kill cattle - these problems are more likely to occur during slurry agitation, for example, while stores are being emptied.

For a mature dairy cow, the width of the slat should be around 140-160mm and the spacing between slats between 35-40mm. For smaller cattle breeds or heifers the spacing should be reduced.

Rubber on flooring

Textured rubber mats, which are designed for cattle housing, allow the foot to penetrate into the mat to provide grip.

Rubber slats increase activity of cows, time spent standing in passages, mounting behaviour and caudal licking compared to concrete.

Rubber mats can also be placed at the feed face. Rubber flooring increased time spent eating compared to grooved and slatted concrete.

Not all types of rubber mat are equivalent, for example, rubber conveyor belting demonstrated a reduction in time spent at the feed barrier suggesting that the cows found the product less acceptable than concrete.

Rubber flooring can improve underfoot conditions of cows, however, when choosing rubber mats both traction and cushion should be carefully considered.

Automatic scrapers

These scrapers run frequently to remove waste material from the passages within the building. The scrapers either deposit the slurry outside the building on a hard standing for collection by a tractor scraper or scrape directly into a slurry lagoon or slurry channel.

Unless scraped runs are kept less than 25m in length, there is likely to be a build-up of slurry in front of the scraper blade. Slurry accumulation does not appear to concern the cow, however soiling of the foot and lower limb can have a negative impact on foot health and cow cleanliness when manure is trampled into the cubicle.

Installing of a slatted cross-passage every 25m will significantly reduce the pooling of slurry in front of the scraper blade.

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