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Animals 2019, 9(4), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9040120

A Novel Method of Assessing Floor Friction in Cowsheds and Its Association with Cow Health

Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton Campus 4343, Australia
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Received: 18 February 2019 / Revised: 21 March 2019 / Accepted: 22 March 2019 / Published: 27 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
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Simple Summary

The objective of this paper was to test a simple method of measuring the extent of the slipperiness of different types of floors in cow shelters. Excessively slippery floors, which are less abrasive, are known to reduce a cow’s ability to walk, lie down, and get up without slipping and causing injury to herself. A moderate level of friction between the cows’ hooves and the floor is required for cow comfort and prevention of foot disease and injuries. This study developed a rapid method that welfare assessors can use to measure the slipperiness of floors in cowsheds. The data obtained were then validated by comparing them with the various animal-based and resource-based welfare parameters assessed in each shelter. The analyses done in this study show that there is a link between excessively slippery floors and various parameters such as frequency of cleaning the floors, the gradient of floors, wounds on the bodies and joints of the cows, and the presence of dirty hind limbs. All of these ultimately affect the welfare of cows in shelters. These results suggest that this simple measure of floor friction could be useful in cow welfare assessments. Further work on the repeatability of this method is recommended.

Abstract

Measurement of friction of cowshed floors to determine slipperiness potential is important for cow comfort. Existing methods require elaborate equipment and procedures. A quick method for assessment of friction characteristics is proposed. Friction was measured in 54 cattle housing and yard facilities with earth, brick, concrete, and stone floors, and its association with cattle health parameters was investigated through assessment of 30 animals per facility. A 156 g cuboidal wooden block attached to a spring balance was pulled over 3 m, and the coefficient of friction was recorded as the force required to move the block at a constant speed. The coefficient of friction ranged from 0.3 to 0.7 and was lowest for concrete and highest for earth floors. A multivariate analysis found that cows were standing more and could be more easily approached when they were on floors with high friction levels. The proportion of cows with dirty hind limbs declined with increasing friction of the floor, probably reflecting the fact that they felt more confident to stand rather than lie on high friction floors. This simple measure of frictional characteristics of cattle floors offers promise to be included in welfare measures as an indicator of cow welfare. View Full-Text
Keywords: coefficient of friction; floor; cows; housing; welfare; assessment coefficient of friction; floor; cows; housing; welfare; assessment
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Sharma, A.; Kennedy, U.; Phillips, C. A Novel Method of Assessing Floor Friction in Cowsheds and Its Association with Cow Health. Animals 2019, 9, 120.

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