When Edward Kavanagh purchased KC Dairies two years ago, he inherited a free-stall barn with a steep floor slope of 4 percent. The barn also utilized a flush system. These factors caused the cows he brought into the newly acquired facility to slip and fall, which led to lameness problems.

To remedy the situation, the Elkton, S.D., producer converted the free-stall beds to sand. The sand provides traction and has significantly reduced the number of injuries that occur.

And it shows in places like the hospital pen, he says. The number of cows in that pen has declined from about 40 per month to seven or so per month. The cull rate also has steadily declined.