Udder Health: The contribution of bedding, with new materials and methods

Monday, February 17, 2020

Permanent bedding/bedded pack barns in Lombardy: an evening of discussion organized by A.R.A.L. in collaboration with SOP.

There was great participation at the evening of discussion at the Villa Delizia Agritourism Farm, in the province of Bergamo on the 17th February, in which Professor Giorgio Mario Provolo of the Università degli Studi of Milan and Mr. Lorenzo Leso of the Università degli Studi of Florence joined discussions led by Mr. Gioacchino Quarta and Mr. Marcello Chiodini from SOP.

The central discussion point was: udder health and the solutions currently available to guarantee this, whilst maintaining sustainability and profitability for farmers.


For many years, Prof. Provolo has been working towards the reduction of the environmental impact of livestock farming and he is one of the experts that work within the LaStaBen Project - “Analyses and interventions for the improvement of the structural and managerial aspects of the barn for the wellbeing of dairy cows”.

The project entails gathering structural parameters from within the barn (including the microclimatic conditions of the different housing areas, cow behaviour, ammonia emissions, the efficiency of the ventilation air flow) and the comparison of these with the optimal values, in order to highlight any possible improvements. The software utilized can also estimate the benefit/cost ratio and the reduction of emissions resulting from the proposed interventions.

In his presentation of the project, Prof. Provolo highlighted the fact that, generally, in order to avoid the diffusion of health issues, it is necessary that the barn and the bedding are efficiently managed.

In the barn, in particular, it is important to try to limit the stagnant humidity, provide good ventilation and make sure that the animals do not take dirt into the cubicles/stalls.

Cleanliness is the key: the dirtier the udder, the greater the incidence of udder infections.

To reduce the possibility of this happening, it is important that the animal remains standing in the first two hours after milking: in this phase, in fact, the teats are still open and if the animal lies down on an unclean surface straight away, the probability of contracting an infection is very high. After this time has passed, the risk is much less.


For SOP, the first speaker of the evening was Mr. Marcello Chiodini, who underlined the fact that one of the driving forces common to the whole farm environment (barn, storage pits, soil) is the presence of the microbial populations, invisible to the human eye, which carry out the activities that have significant effects (positive or otherwise) on the system.

SOP's reseach team studies the microorganisms from these environments, so as to identify solutions to render the various activities more efficient and sustainable.

The solutions available today, as explained by Mr. Gioacchino Quarta, follow two lines of action:

• the first is SOP Bio-hygienization, which favours the formation of a new equilibrium within the barn environment by modulating the environmental bacterial load to the advantage of the animal, the herd and the whole environment. This is possible by favouring the humification process as opposed to that of putrefaction.

• the second is SOP Bio-resilience, thanks to which the animal responds better to any changes in the barn and to any external stimuli, maintaining a greater equilibrium and, consequently, higher standards of productivity and health.

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