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Loose Housing Bedding Options

Randy Pepin

Published in Dairy Star June 18, 2010

There are many questions that need to be answered when considering the differences among the options available in deciding on a bedding system for a dairy herd. Do we install freestalls, or a bedding pack system? Do we use rubber mats, chopped grass/straw, sawdust, or sand? How do we handle the manure: daily haul, short-term storage, or a long-term pit? What is our highest priority: minimum labor or cow comfort? Finally, what are the economic consequences of these options? Let's look at several points to sort it out based on some actual research, experiences, and farm observations.

So which is the best loose housing bedding option? It depends on a number of factors outlined in this article as well as your present housing and equipment, herd size, manure management plan options, short- and long-term goals, and preference. In addition, the bedding option used must fit into the overall system developed for a farm. All systems require good management to work to their full potential.

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