Cow Bedding: The Benefits of Free Stall Sand
Do you want to offer the best comfort and health to your cattle? Free stall sand is highly effective in providing an unparalleled quality of bedding for your dairy cows.
At Groupe Bellemare, we produce large quantities of natural sand in our sandpits in the Mauricie region. Our sand for animal bedding has a perfect granulometry and is free of organic matter. It reduces the risk of bacterial proliferation while offering exceptional comfort.
Of course, there are other options for cow bedding. For example, some producers use straw, sawdust, flax, hemp and more.
With that said, here’s why sand is the best option for cow bedding.
Why is the quality of a cow bedding so important?
Stall design and bedding quality are closely linked to cow comfort and health. Providing the best bedding solution for your animals is good for them and for you!
The benefits of sand in bedding
Many producers favour sand as bedding for their dairy cows. There are many reasons for this choice.
Health and Safety of Cows in Their Stalls
In terms of health, free stall sand greatly limits bacterial growth in the bedding, since it is naturally free of organic matter. In addition, sand reduces the need for grooming, creates a natural uniform wear of the hooves and reduces the risk of swelling or scratches.
Sand is also known to offer an excellent grip and thus avoid injuries related to falls.
Greater comfort for livestock
Bedding sand has historically been very popular with dairy cows. There is no reason to believe that any cow has ever refused to use this type of bedding. For maximum comfort, it is recommended to use 20 cm to 25 cm (8-10 in.) of sand.
Remember that sand alone is not enough to compensate for poor stall design. It is important that the cow is able to lie down comfortably in the stall.
Quality Milk Production
A healthy lifestyle in a comfortable, dry and clean environment is good for cows’ hygiene, but also for their milk production. As a matter of fact, these elements are important to ensure a milk of superior quality.
A cost-effective choice
Stall construction using sand is less expensive because the need for mats and large amounts of concrete is eliminated.
Many producers argue that straw is free and readily available. Despite this, the actual costs of handling and storage can be high.
Not all the economics of sand bedding are positive. Elaborate manure systems and extra wear and tear on equipment can add costs if not managed quickly and properly.
Which sand to choose?
Not all sand is created equal, and “free” sand is not always a good solution. The number of different grades of sand is endless, but a balanced sand that is neither too fine nor too coarse (like Groupe Bellemare’s!) is perfect. Remember that sand must be free of organic matter.
Beware of cheap or “free” sand. Often it is either sand that is mined directly from the field, meaning it may contain stones that can injure cows, or organic material that grows bacteria. Free or cheap sand can also be a by-product of washing construction aggregates and contain excessive amounts of silt and clay that accumulate in stalls.
In summary, the sand should offer:
- Low organic matter content;
- A lack of debris or stones to avoid injury;
- Appropriate texture to ensure safety and comfort;
- A dry matter that keeps the freshness.
Sand separation systems are not only capable of achieving high sand recovery, but separated sand can also be reused for dairy cow bedding. Recycled bedding sand can potentially offset 90-95% of the cost of purchasing new sand.
For sand recycling to be effective, the separated sand must be as clean and dry as possible. Removing organic matter also removes the water-holding capacity of the recycled sand. The organic matter content should be as low as possible, with 2% being the recommended maximum.
Concerned about sand mixed with manure?
Bedding sand that mixes with manure can easily be handled in a manure-handling system designed for this purpose. For more information on handling sand-laden dairy manure, consult an agricultural engineer or other expert in the field.
Happy livestock are often the sign of a happy producer. It is important to treat your animals with care and their housing is where it all begins. Cubicle sand is an effective way to maximize your production, while providing comfort and health to your livestock.
If you have any questions about the sand you need to purchase, contact our experts!