Straw bedding is very important for a good health of Belgian Blue (and other) bulls. In Belgium most stables are partly scattered with straw. A zone of 3-4 meter behind the feed alley has to be cleaned every week. Sometimes a little bit of straw or flax shives is used on these 4 meters for a less slippery floor. The rest of the box is strawed frequently (4-6 kg/bull/day).
Straw in the lying area of the bulls increases the lying comfort. Due to straw in the pens there are less animals with swollen joints and the animals are calmer. The floor is less slippery which prevents the bulls from slipping and falling. Thus, animal health and welfare is improved. However, the cleaning needed in combination with litter increases the workload.
Straw bedding means an increase in workload, but brings a great deal for animal health and welfare!
This Good Practice has an Impact on:
- Socio-economic resilience: Straw can be an expensive bedding material and therefore influences the socio-economic resilience.
- Animal health and welfare: Bedding material definitely influences animal health and welfare. There are less swollen joints, which can lead to decreased veterinary costs and higher daily weight gain. Furthermore, bulls on straw correspond more to the desired image of the consumer.
- Production efficiency and meat quality: Straw makes the floor less slippery and increases lying comfort, this might increase weight gain of the animals and thus have an impact on production efficiency. The weekly cleaning at the feeding area will increase labour time per animal.
In terms of straw bedding is a second Good Practice on the BovINE Knowledge Hub: Fattening bulls on straw with automated bedding and feeding. The future in view.