The study of Mark Braakman, 4th year student at the CAH Dronten shows that manure separation is considerably more expensive than cow mattresses. Furthermore, research has shown that the lying comfort of separated manure is good but that the risks of the getting mastitis are big.
The increasing focus on separated manure raises questions. What is manure separation, exactly? What are the risks of udder health? And what are the costs? To find answers to these questions we studied separated manure as bedding. With manure separation, manure is separated into a thick and a thin fraction. The thick fraction with at least 30% DM can be used as bedding in the cubicles of cows. Research has shown that manure bedding looks comfortable however, barn environment is poor at times.
The relationship between udder health and bedding material is difficult to assess. Udder health depends on many factors and the bedding material is one of them. For bacterial infection in bedding we look primarily to all bacteria. The most common bacteria are: Streptococcus uberis (SUB), E. coli and Klebsiella bacteria. Some bacteria can read alarming levels and mastitis and out breaks occur.
The fact that there are farms where the use of separated manure as bedding has led to mastitis incidents, indicates that the risks are high. Conflicting experiences suggest that further research is necessary in the Netherlands, and that the risks of udder health are high. It is not advisable to use separate manure as bedding, the risks are too high and it is wise to wait first for research results before working with separated manure litter.
Furthermore, a comparison is made between farms with mattresses, deep litter boxes with sawdust and deep litter boxes with separated manure. The costs are calculated for companies with 75, 100, 150 and 200 cows. If sawdust is compared with separate manure from 75 cows it is interesting to buy a manure separator. This advantage increases from 5 euros per cow per year with 75 to 60 euro per cow per year with 200 cows. This is due to the high fixed costs and low variable costs.
In all research situations were the mattresses significantly cheaper. When sawdust consumption of 15 liters per box per week the costs are 44 euros per cow per year. This is compared with separated manure 105 euros by 75 cows. On a farm of 100 cows, this represents a saving of 7,774, – euro per year. An overview of the cost is found in the graph