Conrad Farms: Reducing mastitis, SCC and maintenance costs, increasing comfort

“We have virtually no mastitis. We will go months without treating a cow.”

Rick and David Conrad of Conrad Farms in Grafton, Ohio, installed 240 DCC Waterbeds in their free stall barn in 2011. Now that the cows have adjusted to their new bedding, Rick Conrad reports lower somatic cell count (SCC), virtually no mastitis, dollar savings in less bedding material, and time savings through less maintenance.

“It was a learning curve. The first two or three months the cows were a little unsure about them,” said Rick Conrad. “We adjusted everything to go through the transition and now – five months later – we definitely see a payoff.”

Conrad Farms switched from sawdust to DCC Waterbeds because of their commitment to cow comfort and their desire to cut down bedding costs.

“One of the biggest reasons we went to the waterbeds was because of the cost of sawdust. We were bedding with sawdust – a lot of sawdust – at least twice a week. We basically cut our use in half,” said Rick.

Additionally, sawdust stalls weren’t achieving the consistency in comfort and quality that DCC Waterbeds provide.

“Now, almost 100% of the stalls are in excellent condition all of the time, whereas before there were always a few stalls that became undesirable to lay in and we had to do more maintenance,” said Rick.

The Conrad’s SCC prior to installing DCC Waterbeds hovered between 150-200K, today it is consistently right at 100K. The Conrads have also seen a dramatic reduction in mastitis.

“Out of the 200 cows we are milking, we use to have one to three cows that we were messing with all of the time,” Rick said.

And, after they installed DCC Waterbeds: “We have virtually no mastitis. We will go months without treating a cow.”

In addition to saving money on bedding materials, decreasing mastitis and lowering SCC, the Conrads are spending less time in stall maintenance.

“We were going through and grooming the stalls before with a skid steer every day, now we don’t have to do that,” said Rick. “It is definitely less maintenance.”

Rick sums it up nicely this way: “When you add everything up, we’ve saved time and a little money, and the end result is lower cell count and more comfortable cows. I’m definitely glad we did it and as time goes on it’s really paying off.”