Lying behaviour of cows on sand and rubber in comparison
Lying behaviour of cows on sand and rubber in comparison

Lying behaviour: comparing sand and rubber cover

Research on dairy cow lying behaviour on sand and rubber covers

A cow lying down is more productive, because blood circulation in the udder increases by approximately 25 %. Furthermore, rumination is more intensive during lying and the claws are relieved of their burden. Eelkema et al. (2004) could substantiate that improved lying comfort pays off through a higher milk yield of about 400 kg per cow and year.

Objective of the study:

Due to rising costs for bedding materials, the amount of bedding is often reduced in praxis. The objective of this study was to find out how animal-friendly a deep-litter cubicle system with sand and varied bedding quantities is compared to an elevated cubicle with a rubber cover.


The lying behaviour of 18 cows was monitored by video. The cows were kept in an uninsulated stable. In one experimental phase the cows had only access to one lying surface (concrete, sand or rubber). In a further experimental phase the cows could choose between two surfaces. The amount of straw needed to keep the cubicle surfaces lightly covered was measured. The total lying time, the average duration of a lying time and the number of lying events were evaluated.

Behaviour Rubber Concrete Sand
Total lying time per day [min/day] 768 727 707
Average duration of one lying period [min] 71 76 71
Number of lying events per day 11.1 9.9 10.6

More than one hour longer lying time on rubber mats than on sand!

Preference experiments:

 cows prefer lying on rubber covering compared to sand

cows prefer lying on rubber covering compared to concrete
Bedding requirements:
Management Rubber Concrete Sand
Amount of bedding [g/day] 464±10 468±10 638±13

Highest bedding requirements on sand!


The over one hour longer lying time on rubber mats was significantly higher than on sand or on concrete. Especially with cold temperatures (in the experiment -20° C to +8° C) littering with straw improves the cow acceptance of the lying areas. In the cubicles filled with sand the highest amount of straw litter was needed, because the litter intermixed with the sand.

Animal behaviour indicates that rubber mats provide the best lying comfort, despite reduced amounts of litter.

Source: Norring et al., 2010: Preference of dairy cows for three stall surface materials with small amounts of bedding. Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 93 No. 1

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