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Improving cow comfort and pasture management with rubber matting

Coromandel, Waikato

In 2016, George Smith faced a tough situation on his Puriri dairy farm. Situated in the Coromandel, the farm’s pasture often lay sodden from heavy rainfall. Pasture management was becoming a problem.

George says, “with Regional Council requirement for proof of moisture seal on our ageing wood chip standoff area it was only a matter of time before it had to be replaced. The rising cost of wood chip and inability to keep it clean meant that we needed to look at a new system.”

For George and wife, Jan, rubber matting seemed the obvious option.

“We were happy with the product, so it was always our intention to use rubber matting when we built a feed pad”

In order to trial the concept, George purchased and installed 475m2 of Numat’s Kura mat on his dairy yard; the idea being that he could use the yard to stand-off cows during wet periods and the benefits of soft rubber matting would be felt elsewhere, particularly at milking time.

The decision to install the product paid off and within a short time, George knew he had made the right choice with the Kura matting. The cows were visibly more comfortable on the rubber and the ability to standoff cows on the yard was a boon in wet weather.

In 2018, when George decided to build a dedicated feed pad structure, he knew rubber matting was a must. “We were happy with the product, so it was always our intention to use rubber matting when we built a feed pad,” says George.

Now that the covered feed pad is finished and the mats are down, George says the decision to stand off cows has become an easy one stating, “Previously, in late winter and spring, the decision to stand cows off was often compromised by deteriorating conditions on the stand-off area. Now the only criteria is, do they need to stand off?”

Furthermore, George says the decision to install the matting has been an economically sensible one. “There is a large nett saving in the interest cost on a covered feed stand off facility which is sustainable in the long term against the annual cost for wood chip for a stand off area that was not sustainable.”

In terms of productivity, George says it’s too early to assess gains – but he confirms that his cow condition and feed cover are both better, as is management in adverse conditions; both hot and cold. He also no longer worries about his pasture getting pugged or his cows sitting in mud. When the rain comes, he simply brings them inside, onto the rubber mats, where they are warm, comfortable, and well cared for.

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