Location: Livestock Behavior Research
Title: Rubber Flooring Impact on Health of Dairy Cows Authors
Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2010
Publication Date: July 11, 2010
Citation: Eicher, S.D., Lay Jr, D.C., Arthington, J.D., Schutz, M.M. 2010. Rubber Flooring Impact on Health of Dairy Cows. Journal of Dairy Science. 93.E:14 (Suppl. 1) Technical Abstract: Use of rubber flooring in dairies has become popular because of perceived cow comfort. The objective of this longitudinal study was to evaluate locomotion, health, production, and immunity over the first 180d of each of the 1st and 2nd lactations of cows assigned to free-stall housing with either rubber (RUB) or concrete (CON) at the feed-face of their housing. Cows entered the experiment at d -60 prior to 1st (n = 30) lactation and were observed over 2 lactations. Between lactations cows remained in a straw bedded-pack dry-cow pen. Locomotion scores and blood samples were obtained at approximately -60, -30, 0, +7 and weekly through d +189 relative to calving throughout two lactations. Data were analyzed as a completely randomized design with repeated measures or Chi Square when necessary. Cortisol responses were variable with only an effect of d (P = 0.05). White blood cell counts increased for CON cows compared with RUB cows after d 63 through 182. Those counts returned to similar counts of RUB cows over the dry period, but quickly became greater than those of CON cows after parturition (treatment by d interaction, P < 0.01). Neutrophil counts only tended to be affected by d (P = 0.10) and a weak trend (P = 0.13) for a treatment by d interaction was detected. Lymphocyte counts followed the pattern of white blood cell counts, but only had a trend (P = 0.08) for a treatment by d effect. Monocytes counts were not affected by treatment or time (P > 0.10). Haptoglobin (treatment by d interaction, P = 0.15) and ceruloplasmin (week effect, P = 0.08) were not affected by treatment. Hoof pathology was different by number of treatments that were required (RUB = 2.1 and CON = 1.4; P = 0.03). Lame and sound classifications were not different between treatments (P = 0.13). These data show that flooring not only affected cow locomotion, but was altering immune cell counts, which may indicate an underlying chronic inflammation.