Can rubber flooring on concrete slatted floors work for beef confinement barns?

By Connie Sieh Groop Special to the Farm Forum

Familiar black and white markings on Hanson Silos was a sign of quality on farms across the Midwest. The Hanson Silo company started 120 years ago in Lake Lillian, MN. The tradition started with Mike Hanson’s family in 1916. With changes in the industry, the company responded with new products and technology to meet the needs of today’s producers.

For years, the company provided the vertical silos. About twenty years ago, the company worked with producers to install horizontal silos or bunkers. They now have 3.5-million-bushel grain storage bunkers. Some store feed for dairy and beef animals, allowing easy access.

With the changes, the company developed barn systems that could handle housing for livestock. They purchased a machine to make slatted concrete floors and began to work with swine and beef producers. Animat.usa provides special rubber mats that go over the concrete slats to provide steady footing for the animals.

“We work with those putting up new barns and those that are renovating old barns.” Hanson said. “On the cattle side, there is more new construction than renovations.”

Hanson Silo – Slatted barn flooring and compatibility with feed systems

Hanson Silos is a dealer for the slatted floor systems. Hanson said, “No one else in a 5-state area puts it all together. The parts and pieces are available at different places. We pull it all together to provides the value package in one place.”

With the slatted rubber floors, the company also offers two different lines of robotic feeding systems either dairy or beef cattle. The Valmetal Autoration robotic feed system lets producers feed at the touch of a finger on a smart phone. The system also calls if there is a problem. The Triomatic ground driven feeding robot can feed 700 head on one robot up to 12 times a day. It combines the robotic TMR and the automatic feed pusher.

Slatted flooring for cattle barns – added value and increased yields for farmers

Hanson said, “Producers with slatted confinement buildings commonly see an increase of .2 to .3 pounds per head per day of rate of gain and a significant increase in feed efficiency as compared to slatted barn without rubber mats.”

A producer will likely increase carcass yield to 62 percent yield rather than 61 percent. The manure in the pit has increased fertilizer value , because much more of the nitrogen as compared to bed pack or stacking slab. The pit is pumped once or twice a year rather than once a day.

Mark Riemer, Owatonna, MN, represents Animat.usa and works with Hanson Silo. Riemer said using rubber mats on the concrete is a big factor with the renewed interest in slatted barns over the more traditional Bedded pack barns

Animat’s flooring systems – providing increased efficiencies and reduced labor

Animat’s Maxgrip Mat has been designed for confinement barns where extra traction is the number one objective. The diamond-shaped surface and slat-lock interlocking system work together to provide a comfortable floor that animals can navigate without leg injuries. The holes are fabricated to meet the layout of the confinement building. A special system holds the mats tightly in place so the manure runs into the pits.

While upfront costs are higher than other systems, the feed efficiency pay for themselves, according to Hanson.

“What’s the number one shortage?” Hanson asked. “Labor. The package we put together is sustainable in the future as it addresses the need to come up with ways to reduce labor.”

Sizewise, Riemer said the system appeals to those with all sizes of cattle on feed. “ A few years back the new constructions were producers with smaller numbers. Many found this type of operation allowed them to utilize their time better with a side job or other jobs on the farm. Now we are seeing larger operations building slatted barns as well”

Rubber slatted cow mats – added benefits and comfort for the cattle

“The rubber flooring is the key,” Hanson said. ”The technology is not new but the way it is used is. Years ago, a number of producers found the barns did not work for them because of flooring issues. In some systems, the animals could not lay down on the floors and be comfortable. A number tore up the flooring and filled in the pits.”

Research on pens of cattle fed on rubber floors vs. concrete found a profound difference in cattle behavior. Those on the rubber floor with sure footing were more active than those on the concrete slabs. Those animals moved slower and many just stood there. “If you’ve ever stood on concrete for 12 hours, you know how those cattle feel.”

Every year there are more erratic weather events. If the animals were fed in an open feedlot, there may be several days when they won’t get any gain. In the barn, there is control over some of the elements and animals are comfortable.

“One fellow I know believes he can pay for a barn in 10 years from improvements in feed efficiency, increase yield because of the comfort, and the manure value,” Hanson said. “The numbers add up from different direction, it’s not just labor. Grand funding and EQIP programs through FSA help with funding.”

Hanson says It’s not the answer for everyone but it is an answer for some.