Costs and benefits of the use of rubber mats on concrete slatted floor in intensive beef finishing farms
Several studies have investigated the effects of different types of flooring on the growth performance and welfare of beef cattle raised in intensive finishing farms (see references).
The evidences coming out from the scientific literature show that slatted floors covered with rubber mats provide better daily weight gains and higher feed conversions compared to beef finishing cattle raised on concrete slatted floors. This solution also affects the health of the cattle, reducing the likelihood of developing lameness and locomotor problems.
Simulation of costs and benefits of rubber mats on fully slatted floor were carried out considering the production costs and productivity indexes of the typical beef finishing farms from Italy; Germany and Poland. According to the results of the trials described by scientific literature (Brscic et al. 2015) a 5% increase of daily weight gain obtained with the same feed intake was assumed as a consequence of the use of rubber mats on concrete slats.
For the purchasing and installation cost of the rubber mats (80 € per square meter) the price actually charged by the companies supplying this type of equipment has been considered. The total investment per head has been calculated considering a space allowance of 3,3 square meters for finishing cattle reaching a final weight of 700 kg and more, and 2,7 square meter for lighter beef cattle (500 kg). Annual depreciation of the investment has been calculated on 8 years period. Concerning the costs per animal for veterinary services and medicines, a reduction of 5% has been assumed due to the reduction in the number of veterinary treatments related to locomotor problems and lameness.
The following tables show the costs and benefits of this technique by comparing the before and after implementation for several farm types.
G. Cozzi, E. Tessitore, B. Contiero, R. Ricci, F. Gottardo, M. Brscic (2013) Alternative solutions to the concrete fully-slatted floor for the housing of finishing beef cattle: effects on growth performance, health of the locomotor system and behaviuor. The Veterinary Journal 197. DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.03.001.
Magrin L, Gottardo F, Brscic M, Contiero B, Cozzi G.(2019) Helath, behaviour and growth performance of Charolais and Limousin bulls fattened on different types of flooring. Animal (may 2019) DOI 10.1017/S175173111900106X.
Brscic M, Ricci R, Prevedello P, Lonardi C, De Nardi R, Contiero B, Gottardo F, Cozzi G.(2015) Synthetic rubber surface as an alternative to concrete to improve welfare and performance of finishing beef cattle reared on fully slatted flooring. Animal (April 2015) DOI: 10.1017/S1751731115000592.