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Great Free Stall Bedding Surfaces
Old tires and dirt make a great free stall bedding surface, according to researchers and dairymen who've tried the idea.
Scott Hodgson, dairy scientist at Western Washington Research and Extension Center, explains how the free stall "tire idea" originated. "When a loafing shed had to be renovated into free stalls, we decided to experiment with four different stall surfaces. We compared rubber tires and dirt, solid dirt, cement blocks placed on end, and solid concrete with and without pads.
"The tire-surfaced stalls are used most by the cows. In fact, cows sometimes wait in line to get into one of the tire-surfaced stalls even when other stalls are open. They seem to like the cushion effect of the tires.
"Unlike a solid dirt floor, cows are unable to dig holes into the tire stall floor," Hodgson explains. "On solid dirt floors, cows can dig holes so deep they get caught under the stall dividers. Concrete floors are hard on cows' legs and aren't always comfortable for them to lay on."
In Hodgson's experiment, he used 13-in. tires, laid horizontally edge to edge. Holes were drilled through the bottom sidewall of each tire so urine and water can drain out. Hodgson says 14 and 15-in. tires can also be used, but cautions that larger tires may not provide enough cushion.
Tires placed in the stalls were half-filled with clay soil to hold them in place, then bedded over with wood shavings. "In 2 years of use, none of the tires have had to be replaced and the cows have yet to make any holes in the surface. Bedding retention is also good," says Hodgson.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Scott Hodgson, Western Washington Research and Extension Center, Puyallup, Wash. 98371 (ph 206 593-8517).

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #5