Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Preference of Dairy Cows for FreeStalls Bedded with Sand or Granite Fines and Changes in Bacterial Counts in Those Materials


Troy J. Wistuba

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Sand and granite fines were compared as bedding in free stalls for lactating cows. Eighteen stalls were randomly bedded with sand or granite fines. Lactating cows [100 to 160; 31 to 90 d in milk (DIM)] had access to these stalls plus 142 other stalls bedded with sand. Experimental stalls were observed on 6 d (4 times/d) during the 27-d study. Using a logistic procedure, experimental stalls bedded with sand were 2.8 times more likely to be used than those bedded with granite fines (P<0.01). Stall usage was analyzed using a frequency procedure (P<0.001); cows were observed lying on sand 90% of the time and on granite fines 73% of the time. On d 24, hardness of the surface, measured at a pressure of 2 kg/cm2 , was greater for granite fines (P<0.01). On d 0 and 1, Streptococci spp. counts in granite fines and sand did not differ; however, on d 7 and 11 after adding new materials, Streptococci spp. counts in granite fines were greater than in sand (bedding material × time of sampling interaction, P<0.05). Cows preferred sand to granite fines in free stalls, possibly because sand was the softer bedding surface. Streptococci spp. counts were less in stalls bedded with sand on d 7 and 11 after cows had used the bedding. Costs (without shipping) of sand were $0.096/d compared with $0.049/d for granite fines.