It is a Monday morning in August and outside a steady rain is falling. We have been blessed this year with good rainfall all summer. At Eden Shale we had 6.5 inches in July and a good bit of it came slow. But, if its going to be 90+ degrees for extended periods of time you better have some rain to go along with it.
Late July offered us some time to get our winter hay feeding facilities cleaned up and the manure spread. This means we finally cleaned out the bull barn and allowed us check out how the different flooring options held up over the winter.
As you remember, Dr. Higgins renovated this barn last summer and the renovations included 4 different types of flooring in the barn. You can review those flooring treatments here: https://www.edenshalefarm.com/bull-barn-flooring.html
We housed 38 steers in the barn over the winter in total confinement. Now that the pens have been cleaned I want to share how each pen’s flooring performed.
Pen 1 was the concrete blocks turned on their sides and back filled with dense grade gravel. Dr. Higgins tested the blocks ability to absorb water, and the results showed that they could hold approximately one gallon each. This means this pen can absorb a large amount of water, but that they also will trap moisture and possibly not dry out as fast as the other treatments. Once cleaned, this pen appeared to hold up good the first year. However, the trapped moisture in the blocks weakened the concrete slightly and the skid steer was grinding the blocks down some when turning on the floor. Other than that, the floor looked the same as when we installed it.
Pen 3 was the Mechanical Concrete (tires back filled with dense grade gravel). This pen held up well under the intense use of the skid steer. Turning the skid steer on this floor did not seem to tear up any of the floor. This pen also drained well while the cattle where in it. I will also note that this pen was the cheapest and easiest to install.
Pen 2 & 4 were the Geo Grid and 4” Geo Cell respectfully. Both of these treatments performed well with the cattle present, and were extremely easy to clean. They hold up well to the skid steer and look to have the longest life of the four treatments we installed.
Of all four options, I think the best was the honeycombed shaped Geo Grid. Considering the cost, ease of installation, performance, and maintenance it looks to be the best long term choice for livestock flooring inside a building. I also liked the Mechanical Concrete (tires) however they will require some additional gravel at select intervals. The concrete blocks will require the most maintenance and/or complete replacement the quickest and they retain moisture making them my least favorite application. I will note that all four treatments did have a huge advantage over the existing dirt floor that was previously in the barn.
I want to thank Dr. Higgins for continually working to improve the cattle industry through simple, effective practices like these. They have improved the production efficiency at Eden Shale Farm and could become a part of your operation as well. For more information, check out the Producer Resources tab.