Daily free-stall cleanings are critical to maintaining low somatic cell counts. It also is recommended that you fully replace the top layer of fresh bedding every four to five days, regardless of bedding material.

One free-stall maintenance protocol that is often forgotten is digging out the back one-third to one-half of your free-stall beds periodically, says Rick Watters, milk quality and udder health specialist with GEA Farm Technologies. With sand bedding, it is time to dig out the back 10 to 12 inches of sand from the stalls when you see a dark layer of sand just below the surface. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced the sand in your free-stalls, it is probably time to do so, advises Watters.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Type “How often do you clean your free-stalls?” into the “Search” box at dairyherd.com