Bedding and housing in relation to cow comfort, milk quality and emissions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Freestalls are the most frequently used housing system and sawdust is mostly used as bedding material in the Netherlands. However dairy farmers are looking for alternatives, because of increasing costs of sawdust and trends in dairy housing related to sustainability. Alternative bedding materials in freestalls, such as green waste compost or cattle manure solids, may introduce new sources of microbial contaminants of milk. An alternative housing system called bedded pack barns gives the cows more space and a soft floor for walking and lying. This increases the cow comfort due to less injuries, less problems with legs and claws, less time to lie down and more natural behaviour. In these barns, farmers use beddings with different kinds of compost from municipal biowaste or waste from gardens. Other farmers compost woodchips, mostly with forced mechanical ventilation. Bedding and milk sample analysis of 22 freestalls and 10 bedded pack barns show that compost and composted woodchips are an important source of bacterial spores, in particular of spores of thermophilic aerobic sporeformers. These sporeformers can cause non-sterility problems in sterilized dairy products. Results of 175 measurements with a mobile gas emission measurement chamber on 10 farms show that the ammonia emission per m2 in a bedded pack barn is 10 to 60% compared to emission from a slatted floor in a free stall. However, the ammonia emission per cow is usually much higher (up to 250% higher), due to more m2 per cow. However, when woodchips are used as bedding material, in combination with a low emission floor along the feed alley, the emission per cow has potential to be lower than the freestall. The composted materials from a bedded-pack barn have a negligible N emission after application to farmland and has a high content of stable organic matter which makes this compost very suitable for soil improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of abstracts of the 65th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Print)9789086862481
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventEAAP - 65th Annual Meeting 2014 - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 25 Aug 201428 Aug 2014


ConferenceEAAP - 65th Annual Meeting 2014
OtherBest oral presentation done by a young scientist


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