We here at North Brook Farms think about cow comfort a lot. We also think about farmers’ wallets too – how to keep more of their hard earned money in there. The dual and equally important goals of keeping cows comfortable and maintaining a profitable farm need to be met when considering the right bedding type for your cows. For the past 15 years, deep sand bedding has been emphasized as the golden standard for cow comfort and health and even though we sell mattresses, we don’t dispute that; sand bedding is amazing for cows. We also realize that not everyone is best set up to use sand or have the right type of sand available in their area. In the most recent Progressive Dairyman, Dr. Leo Timms sums up the difficulties of choosing and using sand and how the ultimate goal is finding a high quality bedding strategy that works for your cows. He writes:
“For many, sand is the gold standard for bedding in terms of animal comfort and disease control, and it is an excellent choice. However, some of sand’s properties amplify risks if the sand quality is poor or the stalls are not properly managed. For many, the risks and challenges of using sand, from finding or producing a high-quality sand, justifying the cost to ensure consistent and thorough stall maintenance, and the impact on the manure system, have drawn some producers to alternative stalls and bedding surfaces.
Regardless of the bedding choice, comfortable, clean and dry are the goals. Every bedding type has its own benefits and risks, but it is critical to remember that no stall bedding is free – every one must be maintained to ensure cleanliness and dryness.
Commit to comfort by committing to properly manage your bedding surface on a regular basis.”
We know that no bedding system is free; we just wanted to see if our mattress system was a little closer to free than sand bedding when actual costs were compared. Despite sand bedding initially being touted as an economical bedding, farmers have come to realize there are real costs to both the material itself as well as the labor involved in maintaining stalls and managing dirty sand once it leaves the barn. Our calculations are based on real numbers received from customers and farmers from around the country to ensure a realistic comparison of costs of sand ($19/ton), costs of a load of bedding ($130/load), costs for a Superstall mattress ($175/stall), and the costs of labor and machinery needed to manage either system properly.
Ultimately, the numbers speak for themselves. If a farmer prices out what bedding will cost him for the next five years on a 500 cow dairy, it becomes very clear that a mattress system will be the more economical option. Combine that with the industry-leading comfort of the SuperStall memory foam mattress system that matches cow health and production numbers from sand bedded barns and the choice becomes undeniable. If a farmer can get the golden standard of comfort and do it for less money, the SuperStall system is the natural choice for cow and farmer.
If you’d like to learn more about how we calculated our costs or would like to know more about our memory foam mattress or topcovers, please feel free to contact us!
Drissler M, Gaworski M, Tucker CB, Weary DM. 2005. Freestall maintenance: effects on lying behavior of dairy cattle. J Dairy Sci. Jul;88(7):2381-7.
Timms, Leo. 2015 July. How to ensure you have good-quality sand: All sand is not created equal. Progressive Dairyman, 29(12), pp. 54-56.