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Over half of US dairy operations use tie-stalls, but these farming systems have received relatively little research attention in terms of stall design and management. The current study tested the effects of the amount of 2 bedding materials, straw and shavings, on dairy cattle lying behavior. The effects of 4 levels of shavings, 3, 9, 15, and 24 kg/stall (experiment 1, n = 12), and high and low levels of straw in 2 separate experiments: 1, 3, 5, and 7 kg/stall (experiment 2, n = 12) and 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kg/stall (experiment 3, n = 12) were assessed. Treatments were compared using a crossover design with lactating cows housed in tie-stalls fitted with mattresses. Treatments were applied for 1 wk. Total lying time, number of lying bouts, and the length of each lying bout was recorded with data loggers. In experiment 1, cows spent 3 min more lying down for each additional kilogram of shavings (11.0, 11.7, 11.6, and 12.1 ± 0.24 h/d for 3, 9, 15, and 24 kg/stall shavings, respectively). In experiment 2, cows increased lying time by 12 min for every additional kilogram of straw (11.2, 12.0, 11.8, and 12.4 ± 0.24 h/d for 1, 3, 5, and 7 kg/stall of straw, respectively). There were no differences in lying behavior among the lower levels of straw tested in experiment 3 (11.7 ± 0.32 h/d). These results indicated that additional bedding above a scant amount improves cow comfort, as measured by lying time, likely because a well-bedded surface is more compressible.


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