Studies comparing low somatic cell count herds (<150,000) to high SCC herds (>250,000) found that stalls were cleaned an average of 2.2 times per day for low SCC herds, but only 1.6 times per day for high SCC herds. Regular daily free-stall cleanings are critical to maintaining low SCCs. Also, it is recommended that the top layer of fresh bedding, no matter which bedding material you are using, is fully replaced every four to five days.

However, 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 Dr. Rick Watters, milk quality and udder health specialist with GEA Farm Technologies. In sand bedding, you will know 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.

Management practices that promote cow cleanliness and reduce teat-end exposure to environmental bacteria will reduce the risk of mastitis infections.

Source: GEA Farm Technologies