Location: Livestock Behavior ResearchTitle: Rubber Flooring Impact on Production and Herdlife of Dairy Cows Author
Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2010
Publication Date: 7/11/2010
Citation: Schutz, M.M., Eicher, S.D. 2010. Rubber Flooring Impact on Production and Herdlife of Dairy Cows [abstract]. Journal of Dairy Science. 93:M2(E-Suppl. 1). Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Use of rubber flooring in dairies has become popular because of perceived cow comfort. The overall objective of this longitudinal study was to evaluate production, reproduction, and retention of first and second lactations of cows assigned to either rubber (RUB) or concrete (CON) flooring at the feed alley. Feeding system included headlocks; and cows were fed once daily, with feed pushed up 5 times daily. Grooved concrete cow alleys provided access to 2 rows of free stalls in each pen. Cows entered the experiment at d -60 prior to first (n = 13 for CON and n = 17 for RUB) lactation and were observed over 2 lactations. Between lactations, cows remained in a straw bedded-pack dry-cow pen. Production and health data were recorded throughout both lactations. Herdlife from first or second calving through death or culling was recorded for each cow. Milk, fat, and protein; somatic cell scores (SCS); and numbers of days open and inseminations were analyzed as a randomized design. Explanatory variables in models included treatment, age and year-season of calving, and number of days open. Days from calving to exiting the herd were analyzed separately by parity. RUB increased mature equivalent (ME) fat (488 vs 432 kg), ME protein (364 vs 326 kg), and protein % (2.99 vs 2.81 %) and persistency of the milk lactation curve (114 vs 106 %) (P < 0.04) and tended to increase fat % (4.02 vs 3.70 %) (P < 0.10) during first parity. However, during second parity, CON increased ME fat (524 vs 432 kg) (P < 0.04) and tended to increase fat % (3.95 vs 3.49 %) (P < .08). Treatment by parity interactions for yields and component percentages were confirmed in repeated records analyses. Treatment did not affect SCS, days open, number of breedings, or days of herdlife after first calving or second calving (P> 0.10). These data indicate that flooring can influence production and herdlife. Rubber flooring to enhance cow comfort, which was not directly measured in this study, may not be justified solely in terms of yields and herdlife.