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Report, 1995

Djurvänlig inhysning av ungnöt inomhus

Johansson, Anders


Concrete slatted floor has been the most common housing system for intensive beef cattle production in Sweden. The slatted floor is self-cleaning and does not require any bedding. The labour input therefore is minimal. Concerns have however, been expressed about the negative influence of systems with fully slatted floors on animal health and welfare. Consequently the interest in deep litter systems has grown in the recent years. These systems are considered to create better animal environment and they also allow cattle to be housed in uninsulated buildings. The aim of this report is to discuss suitable housing systems for beef cattle in Sweden in the 21:st century. Both the economic and animal welfare aspects are considered. A housing system must primarily be evaluated based on the physiological and ethological demands of the animals. If the system does not fulfil these demands it should not be considered at all. A recommended housing system must furthermore be economic, both in terms of investment and operation cost. Animal health, aerial environment and the ethological suitability, are important not only to the animal welfare but also have a significant influence on the economic result of the production. The deep litter system is the most common alternative to the slatted floor system in Sweden. The main disadvantages of the deep litter system are the large requirement of straw and the relatively high labour demand. The labour input depends very much on the straw handling system, both in the field and at the farmstead. The straw handling system is typically effective and well mechanised in the field, while transfer from the store and distribution in the bedded court too often is a cumbersome and heavy work. Inventive farmers have come up with their own technical solutions to solve these problems. An alternative to decrease the straw requirement is the sloped floor. The sloped floor is another very interesting housing system. Various types of sloped floor have been developed and used around Europe for several years and in recent years a few have been built in Sweden. The sloped floor system takes advantage of cattle preference for an elevated laying area. Animal movements transport the manure down the slop to a scraped passage and the higher parts of the bedded area remains relatively clean and dry. The building investment costs are much lower than that of a building with slatted floor and less straw is needed compared to a deep litter system. Labour input and costs directly connected to the housing system were compared in the fully slatted floor, deep straw bedding and sloped floor housing systems. The daily straw requirement was set to be 4 kg in the deep straw bedding system and 3 kg in the sloped floor system. The main difference between the systems was the time required for the straw and manure handling. Thus the labour input was shown to be lowest in the slatted floor system and highest in the deep straw bedding system. The system related costs, i.e. the building, the manure handling system, straw material, straw handling and labour, were considered in the economic comparison. Eventually differences in daily gain, feed vonversion and energy input were not considered. Two alternatives were looked at. In the first cattle were kept indoor year round and in the second they were allowed a grazing period of 120 days/year. The differences between the systems were small, though the sloped floor had the lowest costs, irrespective of grazing period (see table below). The slatted floor system is expensive to construct while operation costs are low. Hence, to be competitive the slatted floor system must be put to efficient use at all times to bring down the cost per animal. Big investment costs, such as systems with slatted floor pens, in combination with grazing, can be less profitable compared to straw bedded systems. The conclusion is that the same economic result can be achieved by raising beef cattle in considerably better animal welfare systems than slatted floor pens. Good alternatives are deep straw bedding or sloped floor in uninsulated buildings.


Young stock; beef cattle; floor; system; economy; comparison

Published in

Rapport - Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Institutionen för lantbruksteknik
Publisher: Institutionen för lantbruksteknik, Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet

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