A biological bedding treatment that inoculates cubicles or loose housing with healthy bacteria to crowd out pathogens has been launched by EnviroSystems, with users of the new product Cobiotex, reporting drier beds and a 20% average lower straw use, reducing somatic cell counts and fewer lameness cases.

Developed in France where it is now used for 180,000 cows, the seven-strain bacterial formulation is carried in a hyper-absorbent powder. In cubicles, it is applied once-a-week to dehydrate the area underneath the udder and compete with pathogens for nutrients and living space. The formulation includes the only registered microbiological biocide in Europe.

A monitored trial with father and son Andrew and Tom Pemberton, who sell milk to the public in the north west, saw a 10% reduction in somatic cell counts from 100 to 90,000 cells/ml.

Another in Paul Cashmore's herd at Rowley Park Farm in Staffordshire, recorded 70% fewer lameness cases requiring treatment. He also observed the cubicle building’s atmosphere to be noticeably fresher. EnviroSystems microbiologist Dr Henry Russell claims that, with fewer lame cows, average milk sales also rose by 2litres per cow, which is worth more than £1000 a month in extra income.

Both trials involved a pre-treatment observation phase, then three-month treatment period during full time housing. Microbiological analysis of bedding litter found significant changes in bacterial populations.

At Paul Cashmore's, there was a 15-times increase of good bacteria in cubicle litter. Dr Russell suggests that fewer lameness cases may be explained by a 90% reduction in anaerobic sulphite reductive organisms.

"These are an indicator for Treponema, the pathogens responsible for digital dermatitis, which it is not practical to measure directly on-farm," he explains.

"Clearly, Cobiotex cannot fully prevent digital dermatitis, but these results demonstrate that it can reduce the presence of DD-causing organisms and the resulting risk of infection."

Results at the Pemberton include the near elimination from cubicle litter of non-coliform enterobacteria and 80% reduction in coliforms. In good bacteria, there was a six-times increase in lactic bacteria and 25%-plus rise in friendly spore-formers.

More information is available from the EnviroSystems farm support team on 01772 860085 or at envirosystems.co.uk/products/cobiotex/.