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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Which bedding materials are more acceptable?

Dairy Pipeline: October 2001

Gerald M. (Jerry) Jones
Extension Dairy Scientist, Milk Quality & Milking Management

Approximately 50% of mastitis infections are caused by environmental bacteria, which usually occurs when teats make contact with various environments such as bedding. Scientists at the University of Minnesota tested the ability of different types of bedding to support the growth of bacteria. Their results were presented at the 2001 annual meeting of the National Mastitis Council. Bacteria grew when all bedding materials were incubated but growth varied. Fine materials supported the greatest amount of bacterial growth and large particles supported the least. The lowest growth occurred with sand and large pine shavings, which suggests that these were the best bedding materials of those tested. Intermediate growth was found with paper dots, aspen, and mixture of hard (oak) and softwood (pine). The worst bedding sources, because they supported more bacteria growth, were sawdust, straw, and crushed sunflower hulls. The authors further indicated that bedding must be kept as clean and as dry as possible to limit bacteria growth and bedding material should be changed daily.

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