Document Type


Publication Date



The objective of this field study was to compare effect of stall base on herd health, stall maintenance, bedding cost, and producer satisfaction. Ninety-one dairies visited during a 4-mo period starting October 14, 2005 included 33 rubber-filled mattress (RFM), 27 sand, and 31 waterbed (WB) dairies. In this study, percent culled was higher for RFM (P = 0.001) and sand (P = 0.06) than WB stall base dairies. Percent of cows in fourth lactation or greater was higher on WB than either RFM (P = 0.01) or sand (P = 0.02) dairies. There was no difference between base types for production or somatic cell count. Bedding cost per bed per week was WB ($0.73), RFM ($0.89), and sand ($0.97). Sand beds were bedded less frequently (P = 0.01). Comparisons between RFM and sand indicate higher satisfaction for RFM regarding manure management (P < 0.0001) and higher satisfaction with sand for cow comfort (P < 0.0001). Producers with WB were more satisfied with base life (P < 0.000 1) and cow comfort (P < 0.000 1) than those with RFM. Producers with WB were more satisfied with cow longevity (P < 0.0001) as compared to RFM. Length of sand stall was correlated with longevity (0.56, P = 0.01) while percent of mature cows was greater on dairies that provided WBs (P = 0.02). This data indicates that WB may be a viable option for cows and producers, when good quality sand is unavailable or handling sand-laden manure is not feasible.