Floors and floor mats in animal houses are extremely important for animal welfare, because animals walk and lie on them during 24 hours a day.
Soft mats in loose cubicle houses, also referred to as comfort mats, provide a soft and comfortable bed that suits their livestock needs. Aisles in cow houses must provide safe treading so the cows can swiftly walk commute between the feeding, lying and milking areas. Non-slip lanes passages that provide clean surfaces that are elastic deformable and do not become slippery offer an environment that respects animal welfare.
What does the DLG test and how does it test?
The materials are tested to the following criteria: ease of installation and durability but also animal comfort properties, etc. The DLG tests are carried out in the lab and in situ. The extensive measurements in the animal house are necessary to assess the products for their animal welfare properties.
The floor or floor mat must be non-slip and resistant to abrasion and acidic liquids such as excrements and silage effluent as well as detergents and disinfectants.
Animal related criteria
For animals to adopt a surface this must be soft and deformable elastic. Dairy cows will lie on soft comfort mats for 12-14 hours a day, which is twice as much time than they would spend on hard surfaces. Lying is conducive to claw hoof and joint health, rumination and blood circulation to the udder. This means soft surfaces will lead to an increase in milk production of up to 1.0kg to 1.5kg per cow and day.
The floor surfaces in animal houses must be sufficiently non-slip (whether dry or wet) to ensure safe treading.
Slip resistance is measured with the mobile DLG ComfortControl test stand. The flexibility of floor mats is measured by impression tests that are carried out before and after a repetitive load of 100,000 or 250,000 steps is applied to the mat. Animal behaviour, too, is observed and recorded in situ. To assess the impact of the floor on joint and claw hoof health, extensive assessments of joints and hooves are carried out.