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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 February 2018
This study aimed to evaluate the effect of using different floor types to accommodate growing and finishing beef cattle on lameness. In all, 80 dairy origin bulls were blocked according to live weight and breed into 20 groups, and randomly allocated within groups to one of four treatments. The floor types studied were fully slatted flooring throughout the entire experimental period (CS); fully slatted flooring covered with rubber strips throughout the entire experimental period (RS); fully slatted flooring during the growing period and then moved to a solid floor covered with straw bedding during the finishing period (CS-S) and fully slatted flooring during the growing period and then moved to fully slatted flooring covered with rubber strips during the finishing period (CS-RS). The total duration of the study was 204 days. The first 101 days was defined as the growing period, with the remainder of the study defined as the finishing period. During the growing period, there was a tendency for bulls accommodated on CS to have a higher locomotion score compared with those accommodated on RS (P=0.059). However, floor type had no significant effect on locomotion score during the finishing period. There was also no significant effect of floor type on digital dermatitis during both the growing or finishing period. Floor type had no significant effect on swelling at the leg joints at the end of the finishing period. Bulls accommodated on RS had the least probability of bruised soles during both the growing and finishing period (P<0.01). Growing bulls accommodated on CS had significantly greater front heel height net growth compared with those accommodated on RS (P<0.05). However, bulls accommodated on RS had a tendency to have greater front toe net growth compared with those accommodated on CS (P=0.087). Finishing bulls accommodated on CS-RS had the greatest front toe net growth (P<0.001). Heel height net growth was greatest in bulls accommodated on CS-S (P<0.001). Floor type had no significant effect on mean maximum hoof temperature during the growing period. Finishing bulls accommodated on CS-S had a significantly lower mean maximum hoof temperature compared with those accommodated on any other floor type (P<0.001). The study concluded that rubber flooring is a suitable alternative to fully slatted flooring, reducing the prevalence of bruised soles. Despite greater toe net growth in bulls accommodated on rubber flooring, there was no effect of floor type on locomotion score, suggesting that increased toe net growth does not adversely affect walking ability. In addition, although mean maximum hoof temperature was lowest in bulls accommodated on straw bedding, there was no evidence to suggest this is indicative of improved hoof health.
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