During winter, it is common practice to move dairy cows to a stand-off area. This project aimed to identify off-pasture management systems on farms and compare cow comfort on a variety of stand-off surfaces. A questionnaire was distributed in several dairying regions. The most common types of stand-off surfaces were concrete, or concrete in combination with another type of system. More farmers using woodchip surfaces reported that their cows laid down than those using concrete. The major health problem identified was lameness, and the majority of farmers believed that a woodchip pad worked best. Lying behaviours of 216 pregnant, non-lactating Friesian cows, on 18 farms in Waikato and Southland were recorded. Waikato cows were stood-off on woodchip pads, concrete and farm races. In Southland, covered and uncovered sawdust pads and crops were used. Cows spent longer (P<0.05) lying per day on woodchips (11.3 hrs) than on concrete (2.4 hrs) and races (4.1 hrs). Lying times for cows on covered sawdust pads (10.2 hrs) were not different from those on uncovered pads (11.5 hrs) or crops (11.2 hrs). A properly managed woodchip surface may cause less lameness and provide better opportunities for cows to rest than concrete surfaces or races.

M, Stewart, AD Fisher, GA Verkerk, and LR Matthews

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 62, Palmerston North, 44-48, 2002
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