Raymond Linnane utilises a slatted shed and out-winterage during the winter months in the Burren. Along with his son John, he operates a 50 cow suckler herd in Bellharbour, Co. Clare.
The Linnanes operate a spring calving enterprise. ‘We spring calve all of our cows. We sell half as weanlings and the other half as year and a half old stores,’ said Raymond.
Raymond keeps the cows outdoors on the Burren during the winter, but houses them in a slatted shed from January just as calving commences. The weanlings are generally housed in a slatted shed from 1 November onwards.
‘When the cows are out in winter, one thing that they are guaranteed is dry lying conditions up in the mountain. It might be a little bit exposed when it is 300 meters above sea level. Nevertheless they have shelter and dry lying. The weanlings are housed indoors in a slatted unit which has been fitted with rubber matting.’
Animal comfort and welfare
Animal comfort and welfare is extremely important to Raymond Linnane. ‘A happy herd is a productive herd.’
Slatted shed built in 2006
The slatted housing unit was built 11 years ago. We installed it with EASYFIX Slat Rubber at this point. There were a couple of pens built subsequently and there is no rubber on these, so we can see the difference that the slat rubber makes to our herd.’ Raymond intends to fit the remaining pens with EASYFIX Slat Rubber, based on the benefits it has brought about.
Concrete vs rubber flooring in a slatted shed
‘There is no doubt that the animals are much more content on the EASYFIX Slat Rubber. In the concrete pens, when a calf is born if you put down some rubber mats, they will lie on it sooner than the concrete, which is indicative that they are more comfortable on the rubber. I grade the rubber on the following criteria;
Impact of rubber on lameness
Raymond Linnane believes that lameness is not an issue because of the rubber. “We would not see lameness at all on the rubber. Before the cows go into the shed, they are scanned and they are dressed for lice. Any animal that needs hoof paring is looked after. We have noticed a drastic decrease in the number of lame cows as a result of using slat rubber.”
Raymond feels that Average Daily Gain has also increased significantly. “As the cows are in much better health, they are gaining more from what they are eating. In terms of grass utilisation, we are getting a much greater return from the herd when we started housing them on slat rubber than from before. When the cows are let out to grass in the spring, we would see a notable improvement in the herd, they are much more content.”
“The major advantage of the rubber is comfort, but the herd’s overall productivity has also increased significantly,” said Raymond.
Another benefit of the rubber flooring that Raymond has noticed is increased safety. “Sometimes the weanlings that are housed on the slats without rubber, slip and hurt themselves because they have no grip. EASYFIX Slat Rubber ensures that my herd does not slip and potentially hurt themselves.”
Cleaniness & Hygiene
Raymond admits that his animals are noticeably cleaner on the slat rubber flooring. “My cows and weanlings are much cleaner when they are on the rubber. This is really important when it comes to selling in the mart. The dirt does not stick to them. It’s also much more hygienic as the rubber can be power washed once the animals are let out of the shed.”
Quality & Value according to Raymond Linnane
In terms of quality, Raymond is quick to note the durability of EASYFIX Slat Rubber. “The slat rubber was installed when the shed was built 11 years ago. So far it is showing no sign of deterioration. It cost €969 + VAT per pen. If you look back over the last 11 years, that’s an average of €88 per bay, per year . It really is value for money,” Raymond explained.