Insufficiently maintained deep-litter cubicles - Practical Experience
Insufficiently maintained deep-litter cubicles - Practical Experience

Deep-litter cubicles: effects of maintainance on lying behaviour of dairy cows


Cubicles are frequently insufficiently maintained on farms. The question is whether this causes shorter lying times and affects well-being. Dairy cows are supposed to lie 12 to 14 hours per day in their cubicles.
A study of the Bavarian Research Centre for Agriculture shows the effects of bedding maintenance on the lying times of the cows.


This study aimed to comparing different levels of straw bedding (good: straw bedding 20 cm; bad: bedding 5 cm, around 3600 cm² without bedding) to soft lying mats (KRAIBURG KEW Plus) regarding lying behaviour and preferences. Data were collected in a dairy house with 60 cows (Bavarian Fleckvieh) and a robotic milking system.

good straw bedding maintenance in dairy cow deep-litter cubiclesgood straw bedding maintenance

bad straw bedding maintenance in dairy cow deep-litter cubicles

bad straw bedding maintenance


  • The occupancy of the deep-litter boxes declined by more than half.
  • The lying times per cow and day decreased more than 2 hours.   
Preferences of straw bedding levels and lying mats

 preference behaviour of cows between deep-litter cubicles and lying mats on cubicles depends on bedding maintenance
Lying time (h) depending on different straw bedding Level

lying times of cows in deep-litter cubicles depend on bedding maintenance


In conclusion reduced bedding levels affects the cows lying behaviour and lying position. High straw bedding quality is important for a good welfare in dairy cattle. If farmers have not enough time for cleaning and littering the straw beddings they should use soft rubber mats.

source: Reiter, K., Freiberger, F., Abriel, M., “Straw bedding maintenance: Effects on lying behaviour and preferences of dairy cattle”, LfL Grub, 2006

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