Matresses or deep, soft bedding? Here's our answer!

Matresses or deep, soft bedding? Here's our answer!

Every now and then we see the discussion coming up in e-mails or social media. Some people go for matresses, others prefer deep, soft beds. Here is our advice, with the research to support it:

In general, freestalls with deep bedding are more comfortable for the cows, which lead to less foot and udder health problems, more milk production and thus to a longer and better life for the cow, and more profitability, work satisfaction and pride of the farmers. Yes, deep bedded freestalls need to be managed well, just like freestalls with matresses. When constructed and managed well, deep bedded freestalls do not require more time for daily maintenance. And reduce the time needed for dealing with foot problems and mastitis.

Relevant research
Article Nigel Cook
Conclusion: Lame cows stay lame in barns with freestalls with matresses because they spend an increased time standing, in contrary to barns with deep bedded free stalls like sand bedding.

Article Van Gastelen
Conclusion: Freestalls with matresses cause thick hocks and wounds. Thicks hocks are caused by repeated trauma and lying on a surface that is too hard. Wounds give pain and continuous stress. And they challenge the immune system of the cow, thus increasing the energy use and decreasing the resistance of the cow.

Article 'What you need to know about sand':

Relevant blogs
Sand vs matresses
Prevent lameness
Listen to Elizabeth

So, make sure every cow has a deep, soft bed!

Want to learn more? Do our video learning!

Comments (5)

Teus Dekker

That's exactly the reason why they made waterbeds for cows on freestall barns, now even available in dual format.

Tommy Wollesen

I am not agree with Nigel Cook and Van Gastelen. If it is used a very good matressses, than cows lay faster as on deep beds. most of thick hocks and wounds, comes not from matrasses, but because the iron freestalls is bended wrong, in Cow-Welfare we have made severeal test on matrasses straw deep beds, and sand deep beds. sand deep beds give the best earning for the farmer, les cost each cow early.

Henk van Dijken

Er bestaat nog steeds een groot misverstand waardoor koeien gezwollen en kale hakken krijgen. Namelijk, een dikke hak komt van drukpunten, oftewel door een harde ondergrond tijdens het liggen. De bloedsomloop in de hak word afgeknepen waardoor afvalstoffen in het bloed bij melkgevende koeien zich ophopen en een zwelling van binnenuit veroorzaken. U hebt allicht wel eens een gezwollen hak gezien terwijl het haar op de hak nog aanwezig was. Dus, het komt niet van schuren anders zou immers gevlinderd glad beton de oplossing zijn. Een 2e mogelijkheid van een ontstoken hak is wanneer de hak kaal word. In de haarscheurtjes welke in de kale huid ontstaan kan vuil achterblijven welke de ontsteking kan veroorzaken. Maar, waardoor ontstaat de kale hak, namelijk wanneer koeien op een dikke rubber mat ligt of op een matras waarvan de vulling de lichaamswarmte isoleert. Hierdoor ontstaat broei waardoor de hak haarloos word met als gevolg dat de huid kwetsbaar is voor vuil etc.

Joep Driessen

Thanks for all your thoughts! All beds will work, only some will work better! How can we have cows for 6 lactations, without getting wounded? And healthy with a good production? Deep soft beds is the most likely option!

Adam Porter

I'd be of the same opinion, we started to house our cows all year round about 5 years ago, it's obvious that our housing needs to be changed as cows that spend a few years in the shed continuously in cubicles get worn out very quickly, yet it still was an improvement over grazing, we had more foot problems grazing than housed. Basically any system works if you are using the proper system for your needs. Continuous housing may need more comfort than say only housing for 3 or 4 months.

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