Imagine all those VIC-cows (Very Important Cows) laying in a clean and comfortable deep straw bedding. What are your first thoughts?
Possibly you are thinking about the comfortable and soft bedding in a calm and spacious bedding area. Some may also have negative thoughts about how much work it takes to keep the bedding dry and clean.
The best facilities for a transition period
A successful transition period gives a good basis for the coming lactation period. That is why it is so important to provide these sensitive VIC-cows a comfortable and dry bedding area where it is easy to lay down and get up.
Cows can relax in a large and comfortable deep bedding area.
In a good environment the cow eats more and the milk yield goes up. A calm bedding area means less stress for the VIC-cows, which has positive impacts for the cow health.
How to create the most comfortable deep bedding with less labour work?
The basis for a successful deep bedding area is done during the barn designing phase. Considering all the details relating to the deep bedding area management in advance is important in minimizing the labour time. Spacious routes make it easy to add bedding or to take away the dirty bedding without increasing handwork.
Some farms use deep straw bedding in a calving pen, some keep the cows in deep bedding for the whole VIC-period. The routines related to the management of the bedding depend on the barn itself and the available machines. The used bedding material varies between farms. Some use mixtures of different bedding materials where every component has an important role in creating a good bedding.
More research needed
It is difficult to find studies about good deep bedding area management combined with working procedures related to transition cows. It is time to start collecting “the silent knowledge” form the dairy farms!
This summer and early autumn I will interview dairy farms which have deep bedding areas for transition cows. Come listen these interesting results in the 4dBarn Dairy Welfare Meeting in November!