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Alternative Bedding Materials At Calving

13 February 2018

Trying different bedding types this winter to compliment or replace straw?

See below summary of thoughts:


Not recommended for calving cows.  Either put a layer of straw on top and use the sand to help drainage (only removing the straw layer when mucking out) or only use it for youngstock and free-up straw for cows.

Wood Fines And Sawdust

Not recommended for calving cows.  See comments above; although sawdust could be potentially useful as an absorbent within a straw-bedded court, using less straw as a result.

Course Wood Fines And Wood Chip

Better for calving on if required, provided they are clean and dry.  Larger chips are better for calving on although absorbency is low so drainage needs to be good.

Rubber Mats

As recently seen on an Irish dairy farm, rubber, comfort, cubicle mats stuck down in calving pens seemed to work.  Although, probably only for small herds where cows are in such pens for a limited period and otherwise only preferable to concrete.  Also, be aware of the risk in cows losing their footing on a wet or greasy surface.  The rough textured side facing upwards (meant to be downward) would be better and, certainly, easy cleaned.  Check compliance with any industry or retailer assurance schemes.

Robert Logan,


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