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  • Oral presentation
  • Open Access

Associations Between Dairy Cow Somatic Cell Count and Four Types of Bedding in Free Stalls

  • 1,
  • 1 and
  • 1
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica200344 (Suppl 1) :P52

  • Published:


  • Milk Yield
  • Somatic Cell Count
  • Sand Bedding
  • Dairy Herd
  • Hair Coat

The purpose was to test the hypothesis of no difference in associations between four types of bedding material in free stalls and the cow somatic cell count (SCC) in a study population of primiparous cows in 52 Danish dairy herds. The types of bedding were 1) sand (20–25 cm deep), 2) straw (20 cm deep), 3) channel mattresses (channel bags filled with rubber granulate and a permeable top shield), and 4) two-layer mattresses with foam rubber and a rubber top cover. These bedding types were chosen because they all provided the necessary cow comfort. The herds were randomly selected within each of the four types of bedding systems and represented all regions of Jutland in Denmark.

Information on the stable interior and hygiene, cow hygiene, feeding, health management, milking and ventilation were collected at farm visits. Data on milk production and somatic cell count were provided from The Danish Cattle Data Base.

The results showed:

- increased SCC with increasing age of the farmer

- increased SCC with poorer hygiene in the milking barn.

- reduced SCC with increasing milk yield

- reduced SCC in cows fixed in standing position at the feeding table after milking.

- association between SCC and types of bedding

- interaction between type of bedding and fixing the cows after milking

- interaction between type of bedding and milk yield.

The final conclusion was that SCC was higher in straw bedded stalls than with channel matresses or two layer matresses. The last two were at the same level. Sand bedding was not statistically significant from the three other, but was between straw and mattresses.

Other conclusions:

- cows on straw or sand had intact skin and hair coat on the hocks

- cows on straw or sand were more clean

- increased amount of straw in straw beds and on mattresses improved cow hygiene

- many cows had hair loss and hyperceratosis on the neck in houses with a neck bar at the feeding table

- there was a large variation in the stall dimensions within the cow houses

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Animal Science and Animal Health, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Grønnegårdsvej 8, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark


© The Author(s); licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2003

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.