Did you know dairy cows can lie in a resting position an upwards of 16 hours each day? This rest is critical in their times between milkings and feedings. However, full pens often sacrifice cow comfort when it comes to that rest. A recent study out of Italy looked at the differences in cow comfort between wheat straw and poplar wood shavings. The study looked at the cleanliness of the beds and the comfort of the cows resting on them in a tie stall barn.

Using 38 lactating Holstein cows mid-lactation over 10 days, the study found the cows on the wood shavings were cleaner but the bedding was higher in microbial content. The cows on wheat straw were dirtier, but the bedding had lower microbial activity. Researchers concluded that wood shavings had lower moisture levels than straw, leading to the difference in cleanliness. Straw-bedded cows appeared to be more comfortable based on various behavior benchmarks.

Read more on the study and the role comfort can play in dairy herds here.