“As we enter the winter housing period, cows are lying on cubicles where their udders and teats encounter unhygienic surfaces, which can feature a build-up of faeces, urine and sometimes milk.

“In addition, the cow is also transmitting her heat on to the cubicle, making it an ideal area for bacteria to survive and multiply,” stated Eoin.

Whether milking or dry, dairy cows require a clean and dry bed to lie on during the housing period. Ensuring optimum cubicle hygiene over the coming months will reduce the number of mastitis cases and set your herd up for a successful 2022 lactation.

One farmer who has seen the benefits of implementing a cubicle hygiene programme is farmer Emma Cotter, who runs a dairy and beef enterprise alongside her mother Marian in Castlelyons, Co Cork.

In the video below, Emma discusses the importance of cubicle hygiene and the key role that Bennettsbridge Limestone’s cubicle lime has played in minimising the growth of bacteria and optimising herd health and performance.

Why control mastitis?

There are two groups of cows most at risk of contracting mastitis; cows that have been recently dried off and cows that are close to calving.

Mastitis in dairy cows is caused by udder infections, usually resulting from bacteria which can develop during milking or from the cow’s environment.

Examples include poor milking procedures, teat injuries or direct exposure to bacteria such as unhygienic cubicle beds and lying areas.

Reducing its occurrence helps produce higher-quality milk and increases your herd’s saleable milk yield.

Cubicle lime key to mastitis control

According to Emma: “We’ve been using Bennettsbridge Limestone’s cubicle lime for over 10 years now. During this time, we have seen reduced cases of mastitis and the lime has proven to be very beneficial in improving cow comfort on the mats.

“We have also seen significant improvements in somatic cell count, as we are currently running at 84,000 somatic cells/ml of milk.”

Bennettsbridge Limestone’s cubicle lime is uniquely formulated using hydrated lime and a superfine limestone powder which comes from the Bennettsbridge Limestone high-purity calcium quarry in Kilkenny.

The cubicle lime is finely ground for high surface-area coverage and maximum absorption, ensuring cows are clean, dry and comfortable for longer.

It successfully deactivates E coli, salmonella and mastitis-causing bacteria, such as staphylococcal and streptococcal, by raising the pH above 12.5 (until deactivated).

Bennettsbridge Limestone offers a full range of cubicle lime blends, available in one tonne bags.

  • Superfine Regular Lime.
  • 10% Hydrated Lime.
  • 30% Hydrated Lime.
  • 50% Hydrated Lime.
  • The stronger the hydrated lime blends, the longer it will sustain pH levels of treated areas for lasting animal protection.

    “Cows' teats can be sensitive to the hydrated lime, so a cautious approach to introducing the stronger hydrated lime blends is recommended,” explained Eoin.

    Cubicle hygiene: step-by-step guide

    In addition to a good cubicle lime routine, Eoin highlights the below steps which should be implemented to help minimise the growth of such bacteria.

  • 1. The design of the cubicle can make a big difference when it comes to hygiene. The brisket board should be on or just above the mat to stop the cow from lying too far up the cubicle and to keep her rear end just off the back of the mat.
  • 2. Passageways should be scraped down and cleaned twice daily.
  • 3. When using automatic scrapers, it is recommended to run them six to eight times per day to reduce the volume of dung being brought on to the cubicle bed.
  • 4. The use of rubber mats is also recommended, as they make the cleaning process easier and increase hygiene levels.
  • 5. When applying cubicle lime, the optimum amount per cubicle is approximately a fistful. Other ways of administering cubicle lime include using a scoop to ensure an even amount is spread.
  • 6. Gloves and goggles should always be worn when applying cubicle lime, as it can lead to severe eye irritation.
  • Bennettsbridge Limestone offers nationwide delivery direct to farm within two working days. For more information, call 056-772 7317 or click here.

    Follow Bennettsbridge Limestone on social media:

    Facebook: @BennettsbridgeLimestone

    Twitter: @BennettsbrgLime