In picture 1 you can see the effort spent on the foundation of this particular asphalt walking lane. It is important that the walking lane rises above the surrounding level to drain (rain)water. Regular maintenance (two- to four-year intervals) is required to keep the drainage functional. A small dig beside the walking lane may buffer the (rain)water, avoiding pools of water on the walking lane. Maintenance also depends on what material is used as the base.
Picture 1, path with asphalt (remember to gain authorization from the municipality)
Sand is a widely used materiel for walking lanes. Underneath the sand a bed of field stone, crushed concrete and possibly some gravel is often used for stability and drainage. These kinds of walking lanes need extra maintenance and a supply of new sand during the grazing period as large puddles will form during rainy periods. Therefore ongoing maintenance is required.
Wood chips require a lot of care of the walking lane, as well as a fresh supply of wood chips several times during a season, especially if there are long wet periods during the summer. Therefore it is important here that the walking lane is higher than the surrounding area to allow it to drain sufficiently.
If shells are used as a material it is important that water can drain away and that the walking lane is as high above the surrounding level as with wood chips. This is achieved by always focusing on the sides, and these are repaired periodically (every three to four years).
This is a nice product that can be used for walking lanes. Water can drain perfectly through the openings in the grids. However, the bottom layer (foundation) must be made very stable, otherwise the grids can slip and tilt, which is a potential risk to the cows' claws.
If you have access to used slats these can be a very good solution. They are similar to parking grids and water can drain down between the slats in the sand. However, here it is incredibly important that they lie on a flat and stable surface, so that they are not displaced. If there is not too much tractor traffic on them, they can last for many years.
Another item that is of great benefit is to have a thick rubber mat or other fixed surface around the water supply, whether this is along the walking lane or in the pasture. Preventing this area from becoming soaking wet contributes to claw health in general.
When creating a walking lane always keep the following in mind:
- The bottom layer/foundation needs to be stable.
- Drainage of (rain)water is essential.
- Create a smooth and even walking path, avoiding stones and tilting grids.
- Use walking lanes just for the cows, keep machinery and tractors away.
- Maintain the walking lane from time to time.
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Why treatment plans?
Ensuring that animal health issues are dealt with effectively and that the labour involved in the treatment is efficient is very important, particularly as herd sizes become larger. Farms with an automatic milking system have an extra tool they can use to increase the effectiveness of the treatment, thereby decrease the effort of the farmer has to make to achieve the best results.