Animal Health in Compost-Bedded Pack and Cubicle Dairy Barns in Six European Countries

Emanuelson, Ulf; Brügemann, Kerstin; Klopčič, Marija; Leso, Lorenzo; Ouweltjes, Wijbrand; Zentner, Andreas; Blanco-Penedo, Isabel


The purpose of this study was to compare animal health in compost-bedded pack (CBP) and cubicle housing (CH) systems using data from dairy herd improvement associations. Thirty-two commercial dairy farms located in Austria, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Slovenia, and Sweden were included in the study. A matching design (pairing CBP and CH within country) according to herd selection criteria was used. We explored the following health indicators: somatic cell counts (SCC), high SCC, new high SCC, ketosis risk, prolonged calving intervals, dystocia, and stillbirth. Traits for culling and culling-related issues, such as length of life and length of productive life, were also included. We used multivariable (mixed) linear and logistic regression models to evaluate differences between the systems. Udder health, as measured by SCC, was inferior in CBP, although the geometric means were low in both systems. The incidence of stillbirths was higher in CBP, while prolonged calving intervals were fewer, indicating that there were fewer reproductive disorders. There were no differences in longevity between the systems, although CBP had lower proportions of first calvers. Overall, we conclude that there were few and minor differences in health and longevity between the CBP and CH systems in the European context. View Full-Text