Sand Vs Straw Bedding

UK - Resist the temptation to skimp on straw in an effort to save costs or risk an increase in mastitis infections. That’s the message from DairyCo extension officer, Hugh Black.
calendar icon 10 August 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

“The auction price for standing straw has been exceptionally high in some areas of the country, explains Mr Black.

“And when you take into consideration that the baling and handling of straw is an additional charge on top of the straw price, it is understandable that farmers might attempt to economise by using less straw in the bedding yard. But, using less straw can have an impact on the potential for an increase in the number of dry cow mastitis cases and therefore result in cows calving down with either clinical infections or raised cell counts.

“Sand is an alternative bedding material to straw that could be an option for many farmers. By switching to sand bedding you don’t need to compromise udder health and there are other benefits too.

“Sand doesn’t require a large amount of storage space and you only need to buy it in when it’s needed. It helps cows to stay clean because it’s an inert material and won’t encourage bacterial growth, unlike straw. Straw should be mucked out once a month, whereas sand can be left for up to six months, provided it is well managed and maintained.

“If a farmer decides to switch to sand it is important to try to maintain an adequate loafing area, ideally 3m2/cow when installing the sand bedded system. This is over and above the feed passage area required for feeding. Space allowance for the sand beds should be the same as straw bed space allowance, 1.25 m2/1000 litres of production. For example, a 7,000l cow requires 8¾m2 of lying area space allowance, and an 11,000 litre cow requires 13¾ m2 lying area space allowance.”

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