Facts worth knowing about KRAIBURG rubber floorings / mats for cows, bulls and calves

KRAIBURG focus: kompaktes Fachwissen zur Rinderhaltung vom Spezialisten für Stallmatten aus Gummi

Rubber mats on the walking alley:
Effects on the eco-balance of dairy cows

Soft rubber mats in walking alleys support both claw health and dairy cow activity, thus resulting in greater productivity. From an ecological perspective, the question arises: does the positive environmental impact resulting from higher efficiency (more milk at the same level of emissions) offset the amount of resources
required to produce rubber mats? A life cycle assessment carried out by BOKU Vienna (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences) provides interesting results.

Holstein cattle in the cubicle barn.

Lame cows are not efficient

An important factor that influences the productivity of dairy cows is claw health. It is known that lameness, along with ketosis and mastitis, increases dairy farming emissions. What has not yet been answered: to what extent can certain measures to improve animal health help to reduce dairy farming emissions?

Effects of rubber mats on claw health

Soft walking alley flooring is flexible compared to concrete. It thus reduces the risk of claw lesions and lameness
(Chapinal et al., 2013; Haufe et al., 2009). At the same time, the increased sure-footedness improves oestrus and comfort behaviour as well as the activity of dairy cows in general (Platz et al., 2008). Active cows go to feedmore often and have a higher feed intake (Bach et al., 2007), which in turn results in healthier claws and thus more milk (Ouweltjes et al., 2009).

Comparison of the eco-balance with and without rubber mats

By means of a life cycle assessment, BOKU Vienna (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences)
compared emissions before and after the installation of rubber mats in the walking alleys of Austrian dairy farms. The result: rubber mats in the walking area can be considered positive not only in terms of animal welfare but also from an environmental perspective. Although there are "environmental costs" associated with implementing the mats, they can be largely offset by the simultaneous improvement in animal welfare, which has an emission reducing effect.

Source: Herzog at al., 2020: Welfare intervention and environmental impacts of milk production – cradle-to-farm-gate effects of implementing rubber mats in Austrian dairy farms