Monday, August 15, 2022

Do mattresses help dairy cows produce more milk? See facts and myths

Do mattresses help dairy cows produce more milk? There is a group of farmers who take dairy production so seriously, they go to great lengths to get maximum yield from their investment. This type of farmers know what it means to do dairy business.

They understand dairy diseases, and the economics of production through experience. I have a number of such farmers in my clientele list. Now, when such farmers approach you seeking advice; you have to prepare well lest they beat you in your own game.

These are the Google farmers. They have subscribed to dairy breaking news platforms, they will not miss the Kabarnet, or Nairobi ASK show or the breeders show. If you aren’t fast enough they will lecture you on matters veterinary.

That is the situation I found myself in sometimes back when a dairy innovation in the name of cow mattress made its maiden appearance on the Kenyan market.

I don’t know how he smelt it, a reason I told you these farmers are in dairy farming heart and soul. So he asked me, daktari what are the benefits of this cow mattress thing?

Luckily, I had received the news ahead of them while in The Netherlands and read some literature on this innovation.

The invention of cow mattress was premised on the importance of comfort as a factor affecting milk production. Ordinary cow sheds will have cemented floors; in Kenya you will find many farmers using marram/sand.

Concrete floors have some disadvantage; the roughness of the surface and many bony prominences on a cow’s body can easily result bruise wounds.

Koros: How I made my dairy farm profitable after starting with Sh. 120,000

These wounds, if not treated immediately, will attract flies which will cause disturbance and further contamination of the wound with dangerous bacteria.

The coldness of concrete adds to the discomfort, denying the animal quality rest and  increasing stress levels. To control this, farmers ingeniously spread sawdust or sand onto concrete floors.

Mattresses in dairy farming: the problems

This may make it comfortable but again comes with another problem of dumbness, as it interferes with the drainage.

This creates conditions that can easily predispose a dairy animal to mastitis, another headache for dairy animals.

Little research done on rubber mattresses as bedding material has yielded good results in favour of this innovation.

Rubber cow mattresses offer the required comfort, it is relatively warm, doesn’t hold onto moisture, subsequently making the animal relax, rest comfortably and sufficiently and ensure high milk production. This product is readily available in the Kenyan market.

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