The Benefits of Sand Bedding for Cattle (and Humans)

For many people, cows are a clean, docile animal viewed at state or local fairs or seen wandering around pastures on a drive through the countryside. However, managing a herd of dairy animals is no small task. Farmers desire healthy animals that consistently give milk every day. For cows housed primarily in barns, the quality of the bedding used in the stall is important. Not only should bedding be comfortable but also clean, a task made difficult by cows that have no concern about where they are when they are eliminating waste. This creates the possibility a cow could be lying on top of manure for several hours a day and possibly infecting their udders with bacteria like Escherichia coli strain O157:H7, causing mastitis and negatively affecting milk production and cow health. Reusable sand bedding is an option increasingly used for dairy cows, with studies indicating a lower risk of mastitis in herds with sand bedding versus organic bedding (e.g., sawdust). Research by Westphal et al. discovered why sand bedding is able to suppress growth of pathogenic bacteria. Continue reading “The Benefits of Sand Bedding for Cattle (and Humans)”