Effect of overlaying rubber on fully slatted concrete floors on hoof health and lying postures in finishing dairy-origin bulls offered two contrasting diets
Fully slatted concrete floors are labour-efficient, cost-effective and thus common in beef cattle housing. However, the welfare of cattle accommodated on them has been questioned. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of floor and diet on hoof health and lying behaviours of housed dairy-origin bulls, from a mean age of 8 months to slaughter at 15.5 months old. Forty-eight bulls, which had a mean initial live weight of 212 (SD = 23.7) kg, were allocated to one of four treatments, which consisted of two floors and two diets arranged in a 2 × 2 factorial design. The floors evaluated were a fully slatted concrete floor and a fully slatted concrete floor overlaid with rubber, while the diets offered were either a high concentrate diet or a grass-silage-based diet supplemented with concentrates. The mean total duration of the study was 216 days. Floor had no significant effect on claw measurements measured on day 62 or 139. However, bulls accommodated on slats overlaid with rubber had a tendency to have a higher front toe length measured pre-slaughter than those accommodated on concrete slats ( P = 0.063). Floor had no significant effect on the net growth of toes or heels during the duration of the study. The number of bruises ( P < 0.01) and the bruising score ( P < 0.05) were significantly higher on day 62 in bulls accommodated on fully slatted concrete floors than on concrete slats overlaid with rubber, but there was no significant effect of floor on these parameters on day 139 or at the measurement taken pre-slaughter. There was a tendency for bulls accommodated on concrete slats to have a higher probability of having sole bruising at the end of the experiment than those accommodated on slats overlaid with rubber ( P = 0.052). Diet had no significant effect on toe length or heel height, number of bruises, or overall bruising score at any time point of the study. There was little evidence in the current study to suggest that bulls lying on fully slatted concrete floors could not express lying postures similar to those on concrete slats overlaid with rubber.
Publication history: Accepted - 1 October 2019; Published - 7 December 2020.
slats, floor type, beef cattle, sole bruises, lying positions
Lowe, D.E., Gordon, A.W. and Lively, F.O. (2020) ‘Effect of overlaying rubber on fully slatted concrete floors on hoof health and lying postures in finishing dairy-origin bulls offered two contrasting diets’, Animal. Elsevier BV. doi:10.1017/s1751731119002702.