Physical Properties of Miscanthus Grass and Wheat Straw as Bedding Materials for Dairy Cattle
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Housing system can affect dairy cow’s welfare and performance and the type of bedding material used can also affect comfort and hygiene level of the animals. A wide range of different materials can be used in bedding for dairy cattle, but their physical proprieties must be analyzed to evaluate their potential. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the physical properties of Miscanthus grass in comparison to wheat straw, as an affordable alternative being used as bedding material in housing systems for dairy cows. Particle size, bulk density, air-filled porosity and water holding capacity from Miscanthus and wheat straw were measured experimentally in the lab of the DAGRI of the University of Florence. The particle size was determined by applying 50 g of material on six meshes. Bulk density was determined according to the ASABE Standard S269.4 DEC 91. To determine the water holding capacity and air filled porosity of bedding materials samples the Australian Standards AS 3743-2003 were used. The analysis showed that since Miscanthus presented 88% of the particle size bigger than 50 mm, it also presented higher value of water holding capacity (0.072 kg L−1) in comparison with wheat straw (0.057 kg L−1). Miscanthus presented higher bulk density (26 kg m−3) than wheat straw (18 kg m−3). Both materials presented similar air-filled porosity, around 88%. Based on these physical properties results, it was possible to demonstrate the good potential to use Miscanthus as a viable alternative to wheat straw as a bedding material for dairy cattle.
KeywordsBulk density Dairy cows Air filled porosity Water holding capacity
This research was funded by the EU program ERA-NET SUSAN and was developed within the project “FreeWalk”. The authors would like to thank Università degli Studi de Firenze (UNIFI) and Federal University of Lavras (UFLA).
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