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Effect of sand and rubber surface on the lying behavior of lame dairy cows in hospital pens

Bak, A.S., Herskin, M.S., Jensen, M.B.
Journal of dairy science 2016 v.99 no.4 pp. 2875-2883
cross-over studies, dairy cows, hospitals, pain, rubber, sand
Housing lame cows in designated hospital pens with a soft surface may lessen the pain the animals feel when lying and changing position. This study investigated the effect of the lying surface on the behavior of lame cows in hospital pens. Thirty-two lame dairy cows were kept in individual hospital pens, provided with either 30-cm deep-bedded sand or 24-mm rubber mats during 24 h in a crossover design. On each surface, the lying behavior of each cow was recorded during 18 h. On deep-bedded sand, cows lay down more and changed position more often than when housed on the rubber surface. Furthermore, a shorter duration of lying down and getting up movements and a shorter duration of lying intention movements were observed. These results suggest that lame dairy cows are more reluctant to change position on rubber compared with sand, and that sand is more comfortable to lie on. Thus, deep bedding such as sand may provide better lying comfort for lame cows than an unbedded rubber surface.