The farmer, Paul Kinsella has covered concrete slat flooring with rubber mats to improve the welfare of livestock in the accommodation during the winter months. This is a mixed suckler beef and sheep farm, which had 40 to 70 suckler cows and 400 ewes. Beef calves from the suckler herd were brought to beef as young bulls, steers and heifers. The main breeds were limousine cross cows and Charloise bull. The main feeding system is grazed grass outdoors, with the animals accommodated indoors during the winter, early spring period.
Rubber mats were laid on the slatted flooring by a contractor, the results were seen immediately. The main benefits were a reduction in lameness, reduced use of veterinary medicines, increased performance, reduced use and cost of straw bedding and reduced workload.
Rubber mats on slats increase animal health and welfare as well as animal performance!
This Good Practice has an Impact on:
- Socio-economic resilience: Reduction in veterinary costs. Increase in animal performance.
- Animal health and welfare: Reduction in veterinary costs. Increase in animal welfare and comfort of the livestock. Better survival of suckler cows. Less culling for poor feet or feet problems. Reduction in veterinary costs. Positive consumer, retail and processor perception of animal welfare and comfort of the herd. Reduction of fatalities of young bulls feeding on slats.
- Production efficiency and meat quality: Increased daily weight gain on young bulls. Reduction in workload through the nonuse of straw. More contented young bulls resulting in an increase in carcass quality.
- Environmental sustainability: Improved productivity and performance resulting in higher weight for age on young bulls. Better suckler cow performance including reproductive performance.
In terms of rubber mats there are some more Good Practices and Research Innovations on the BovINE Knowledge Hub:
- Rubbermats on slats - the animal welfare version of slats?
- Use of rubber mats on slatted floors
- Fattening bulls on slatted floor with perforated rubber mats. Alternative to straw litter.