Bedding Options for Dairies

Bedding is an important choice all dairy farmers must make. Choosing the right bedding for your farm can make a huge difference in cow comfort, leading to a more profitable dairy.

When considering different bedding options, make sure you do your research on advantages and disadvantages of each material. Although barn design will come into play (tie v. free v. open) there are certain materials that should not be overlooked.


There are a variety of options available for dairy farmers to use on their farm. Here are some of the most common:


Rubber Mattresses

Advantages: Waterproof. Comfortable. Anti-slip grip. East to clean.

Take a giant leap forward in cow comfort with rubber mattresses. Rubber mattresses are waterproof, and thus easy to clean and maintain. They also keep your herd comfortable, ensuring they are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Additionally, because rubber mattresses are so comfortable, they encourage lying time, allowing for improved nutrient utilization and milk production.



Advantages: Comfortable. Cool in Summer. Warm in Winter.

Sand is a popular choice for bedding, and it’s not difficult to see why. Sand ensures your cows are comfortable in all seasons. And because it conforms to the cow’s body, it leads to increased day-to-day comfort as well. On the downside, it can be difficult to work with and keep clean, and it can cling to your cows when wet.


Sawdust/Wood Shavings

Advantages: Comfortable. Cost-Effective.

When properly dried, sawdust or wood shavings can be an adequate, comfortable, and cost-effective solution for dairy bedding. However, it has it’s challenges. This material allows for the growth of pathogens when wet, and you must have the correct particle size for sawdust.



Advantages: Composts well. Economical.

Chopped straw can be a highly economical choice if it’s grown right on your farm. Similar to the other options we mentioned, it forms to the cow and is comfortable. It also composts well. Changing out the straw often is required, as soiled straw can lead to pathogen growth. The particle size must also be correct for comfort and breakdown time.


When it comes to bedding options for your dairy, it can be overwhelming. Contact us today for our recommendations on bedding material for your specific barn type and equipment.