Soft slatted floor covers improve success in beef fattening
Soft slatted floor covers improve success in beef fattening

Soft slatted floor coverings improve animal welfare and production in bull fattening

Housing fattening bulls in pens with fully slatted floors is widespread.

Advantage: lower labour and space requirements, efficient manure removal system, clean animals

Disadvantage: more slippery, increasingly interrupted lying down movements and altogether fewer lying periods, often lying damage e.g. swollen or inflamed carpal joints, tail-tip injuries / necroses

Softer lying areas are clearly preferred by the animals.

Objective of the study:

Within the framework of this study the effects of concrete slatted floors and of two different rubber floors (Rubber-Slat®, Fritz Foderstyrning AB and LOSPA swiss, KRAIBURG) on the behaviour, claw and leg disorders, claw growth, animal cleanliness and fattening bull productivity were investigated.

Procedure:

The study was carried out at the Experimental Station Götala of SKARA University (Sweden) from November 2007 until December 2008. In the pre-test phase 80 Swedish-Holstein bull calves (from 100-225 kg) were kept in a non-insulated stable on deep litter. The experiment (225 -650 kg) was carried out in an insulated stable in 16 pens
(3.65 m x 2.94 m).

Results:

Lying periods within a 12 hour period (250 kg bulls)

fattening bulls have most lying periods within 12 hours when kept on rubber

  
Average length of fattening (slaughtering age in days)

average length of fattening is shortest when bulls kept on rubber

  
Claw damages (sole and white line haemorrhages compiled) (in %)

fattening bulls kept on rubber have the fewest claw damages compared to concrete floor

LOSPA swiss: the fewest sole and whiteline haemorrhages with a medium severity degree and no severe diseases at all!

Conclusions:

  1. Fully slatted pens with rubber coves are more animal-friendly, shown through fewer interrupted lying down and getting up movements with more frequent lying periods.
  2. On LOSPA swiss the fattened bulls, in comparison to other floor variants, tend to be mature earlier for slaughter.
  3. Joint and claw health improves significantly on LOSPA swiss compared to concrete slatted floors, whereby the “net claw growth” does not change.

Source: Graunke et al., 2011: Does rubber flooring improve welfare and production in growing bulls in fully slatted floor pens? Animal Welfare 2011, 20: 173-183 ISSN 0962-7286

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