Influence of the floor on hoof health
Cows can be on their feet for up to twelve hours a day. As such, the flooring has a decisive impact on hoof health – and thus also on the overall well‐being of the animal. The key factors for assessing a floor are its hardness and slip resistance. As described above, the hooves of a cow are asymmetrical and, therefore, perfectly adapted to natural, soft soils, such as those found in a pasture or meadow. For instance, the slightly longer outer claw can sink into the ground and ensure the cow is standing and walking correctly. At the same time, the load is also distributed to the shorter inner claw.
Hard ground surfaces such as natural stone or concrete, as commonly found in barns or on outdoor walking areas, prevent the outer claw from sinking in – thereby compromising the animal’s stability and ability to distribute load effectively. Needless to say, cows that slip or are in pain while walking tend to move less and more slowly. They avoid unnecessary walking and take only very short, careful steps.
Restricted movement becomes evident through discernible changes in feed intake, lying times or the number of times a cow stands to be mounted during estrus.
The result: Reduced milk yield caused by a slower metabolism.