Bedding Management


Source: National Farm Animal Care Council Code of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals – Dairy Cattle, Section 1.6

To ensure cows spend time lying in stalls, it is important that the stall surface be comfortable. There are many alternatives that can be used for bedding and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Some choices would be clean sand, straw of various kinds, kiln-dried shavings or sawdust. To reduce the amount (depth) of bedding, mattresses can be utilized. Sanitation and bedding is essential for the calving area (11).


Bare concrete platforms or hard rubber mats without bedding are unacceptable surfaces for the humane housing of cows.

Daily removal of cow patties and use of generous amounts of bedding assures cleanliness of cows kept in bedded-pack pens.


  1. ensure stalls are routinely bedded and raked out
  2. add and level new sand routinely to sand-bedded stalls
  3. ensure the cows are lying in the stalls (not in the alleyways or standing in the stalls)
  4. observe the legs of the cows over pressure points for signs of abrasions, swelling or sores
  5. use straw choppers to decrease the amount of straw required
  6. ensure calves and cattle have a dry area to lie down (i.e., if your knees get wet in 25 seconds of kneeling in the rest area, then it is too wet)
  7. for bedded-pack pens, add clean, dry bedding (e.g., straw, sawdust, shavings) daily
  8. for bedded-pack pens, remove cow patties a few times each day to assure cow cleanliness and to reduce the quantity of bedding needed
  9. for composted bedded-pack pens, bed as needed and till twice per day
  10. for composted bedded-pack barns, assure excellent ventilation to reduce humidity
  11. for bedded-pack or composted-pack barns, provide access to pasture or an exercise yard to decrease labor and bedding requirements.