We were interested in the professional society's opinion on the use of rubber floors / mattresses in cowsheds and their possible negative or positive impact. So we went through some cited articles that were published over the last 20 years to make up our own mind.
Most articles examine the following surfaces:
Soft mattresses compared to hard mattresses in terms of parameters are as follows:
The tested surfaces should ensure that the cows remain clean and healthy, while reducing the cost of lining the cowshed with organic bedding.
The test was carried out in unheated buildings.
Cows were divided into test groups and were placed in rooms with individual surfaces. The movement and position of the cows were monitored by cameras.
According to article from 2010, cows spent the most time lying on rubber mattresses, i.e. 6% more than concrete and 9% more than sand.
A 2019 article mentions that the lying time of cows is 5% longer on rubber surfaces (582 minutes / 12h) than on concrete surfaces.
The preference test showed that cows preferred lying on rubber mattresses more than concrete. All surfaces had the same amount of padding (i.e. minimum acceptable amount.).
The assumption is that cows prefer (article) rubber surfaces due to thermal insulation of rubber surfaces in winter, when the temperature reaches -20°C to 8°C, which is also mentioned in the article from 2022.
The preference for standing on a rubber surface (197 minutes / 12h) is 30% greater than on a concrete surface, according to an article from 2010.
Chewing time (522 minutes / 12h) is 20% higher on rubber surfaces than on concrete surfaces, according to an article from 2010.
Lining is also necessary when using rubber floors, but in a lower amount, which is mentioned in the following article, where they say cows prefer as much bedding as possible. However, rubber surfaces minimize the amount of padding used. The amount of bedding for rubber and concrete floors is 35% lower than for sandy floors, according to article from 2010.
The risk of cows slipping was reduced by 40% on rubber surfaces compared to concrete surfaces, according to a 2019 article.
The influence of the rubber surface on the milk yield of cows is minimal, according to the articles it is 2-3% (8.5 liters/day, vs. 8.3 liters/day), if we do not compare the deviation, according to an article from 2010.
During the calving season, rubber surfaces increase the time spent lying down by 10%. In conclusion, the article from 2022 is that rubber flooring increases cow lying time, cow ruminating time, reduces standing time and also reduces cow self-cleaning time. However, this is a maximum of 10% difference.
In the following article from 2019 perceive soft rubber surfaces as the most comfortable for cows. However, it is concluded that soft rubber mattresses are not a suitable solution due to the short life and rapid deformation of the surface, even though soft rubber mattresses are the cheapest material. However, the cost of replacing soft rubber mattresses is high compared to harder rubber that has a long lifespan. According to the experience of our customers for decades. It is easy to maintain and needs less padding than non-rubber surfaces.
The following article mentions that rubber floors achieve less wear on the cows' ankles and also less need to clean the hooves, which serves as prevention of claw damage and overall lameness of cows.
Rubber mattress from our rubber factory will fall into the category of harder rubber mattresses and surfaces. It is clear from professional articles that rubber surfaces for cow sheds are definitely better than concrete, sand and tartan. However, it is not possible to prove from experiments whether soft rubber or hard rubber is better for better comfort for cows. Both surfaces acquire similar values in different parts of the year with different deviations.
However, according to the articles, harder rubber is more economically advantageous for cows than soft rubber mattresses. Mainly because of the repeated costs of changing soft rubber mattresses, as the space has to be cleaned and washed when changing mattresses, which is difficult in cowsheds. Soft rubber also wears out quickly and flexes in different ways, which can lead to more burying of cows in the stall.