Grooving Truths and Myths

There is a lot of misleading information that a livestock producer must sift through to get to the actual truth of claims made by grooving suppliers and many academic seminars.

 Several of the claims in this ad, and many others that are being falsely promoted as fact, will be addressed in the following presentation.

Grooved Flooring Ad

MYTH #1: “Grooved floors are the cleanest & driest floors.”

TRUTH: A diamond grooved floor is actually one of the dirtiest & wettest.

In a ten square foot area (5′ X 2′ or, 1 metre square) of diamond pattern grooved floor, there is almost one and a half gallons (6 litres) of manure remaining in the grooves after scraping.
It is claimed that it is driest because the urine flows into the grooves and disappears. To where?
The fact that a cow does more than urinate means that solids are also produced. Those solids fill up or dam up the grooves, producing puddles that remain on the smooth surface and will not drain unless the floor is sloped the proper direction. Something that every type of floor can do without grooving.

(Pictures taken AFTER pressure washing a grooved floor.)

After-pressure-washging-grooved-floor2 After-pressure-washging-grooved-floor

 

MYTH #2: “Grooved floors deliver the Maximum amount of Traction”

Groovers-Charge-curb-to-curbTRUTH: Grooving works on a “slip & catch” principle. When the hoof slips, it gets caught in the groove.

When the grooves are full of manure, there is very often, little space or edge for the hoof to get caught on when there is almost 1000 pounds of animal and inertia behind the hoof.
One would expect that “maximum traction” would mean that slippage doesn’t start in the first place before a product can work. Often times, the grooves are up to 15 inches or more away from where a cow gets in and out of the free-stall. That leaves a very large area for potential slip. Especially when considering that the grooving suppliers charge full price for the full footage of the alley, curb to curb.

 

 

MYTH #3: “Grooved floors reduce culling.”

TRUTH: Lameness is one of the leading causes of “involuntary culling” of an animal from the herd.

Many hoof trimmers will attest to the problems they see on the hoof due to injuries resulting from the slip & catch concept and bacteria-borne issues due to the greater amount of manure remaining in the grooves cut or imprinted into the floors.

 

MYTH #4: Grooved floors require zero maintenance.

TRUTH: This is actually, partially true. Once you have grooved the floor, there is nothing you can do to reduce the manure storage aspect.

Only by grinding a texture into the concrete surface between the grooves can the slip & catch be reduced. That can be done to any floor without grooving previously being put in.

 

MYTH #5: “A grooved floor has the fastest payback.”

TRUTH: Compared to doing nothing at all, yes.

The cost per square foot is generally less than other options in regards to existing concrete. However… that depends on how the grooving is done and costs calculated. One-way or diamond pattern? One direction grooving is half price, but only has a chance of being effective when the cows travel in only that direction. When they turn 90 degrees to travel, it cannot work. Therefore, it can only be half as effective.

In existing facilities, the farmer is generally responsible for pre and post cleanup, removal and return installation of automated scraper systems. Grooving is also a considerably slower process than other full surface texturing methods. When all these factors of the clients time, energy, longer disruption of routine and the potential for higher hoof maintenance costs every year afterwards is taken into consideration, the total cost per square foot to the farmer is much higher than initially thought.

Hence the true final cost to calculate the payback rate is considerably higher than the initially quoted price.

MYTH #6: The Groovers have a guarantee on their services.

TRUTH: Some will “guarantee” that the grooves will be there for the life of the concrete floor.

Nothing is mentioned about the effectiveness of preventing cows from slipping or falling.

 

MYTH #7: “Grooving needs to be done in new barns.”

TRUTH: Many concrete contractors are educating themselves on putting a good, non-slip, hoof-friendly texture into the entire surface of the floors at the time of concrete placement.

This process costs next to nothing to the farmer and is done with a $200.00 tool most contractors already own.

texture-floors-when-pouring-concrete Rollerbug

 

MYTH #8: “Grooving can be done on slatted floors.”

Rusted-Rebar-diamond-groovingTRUTH: Most slat manufacturers will not honour a warranty on their product if it has been grooved.

The deep grooves end up exposing the steel re-enforcing rods placed in the pre-cast slabs that give it the engineered strength required to support the cows above the manure pit. When this steel is exposed to the air and manure, it rusts and expands, splitting the concrete and rapidly leading to structural failure.

The claim is that they never hit the rebar with their saw blades.
The picture below was taken at a groover’s trade show display and they continue to use it at every show.

The orange spots in the foreground are rusting rebar. There are 7 spots on the 5 foot square precast slab.

 

MYTH # 9: New concrete floors will burn cow’s feet.

TRUTH: Some grooving companies sell a “specially formulated” neutralizer (diesel fuel and linseed oil) to spray on concrete floors to protect the hooves from the caustic properties of new concrete.

If the floors have been in place for 3-4 weeks before the cows are placed, it is an unnecessary expense. Flushing with water or even liquid manure will remove the “free-lime” that is only produced during the 28- day curing process of concrete.
Fully cured concrete is slightly alkaline but cow manure is neutral to slightly acid which will naturally lower the pH level to a neutral value.

PH-Level-neutrality-barn-concrete

MYTH #10: Grooving has been around a long time therefore must be good.

TRUTH: Diamond saw grooving of concrete floors was developed from 1950’s technology for 1960’s barnyards and has changed very little since that time.

Patented-milling-or-diamond-groovingThe typical dairy facility has changed considerably in the past fifty years, yet the mentality and philosophy on floors have not. Up until the 1980’s a large dairy barn was 60 cows in tie-stalls and spent very little time on bare concrete. The rapid increase in herd sizes and labour costs has demanded more and more free-stall facilities and modern technology has made that possible. Most groovers still maintain grooving is the best but are scrambling to imitate other methods of floor improvement that have been developed and proven with 21st century technology and consideration for the animals.

The changing times in society are demanding more attention to be paid to animal welfare.

Many innovative companies are now more concerned about animal welfare and are working together on improving the livestock industry on a whole rather than just simply sticking dollars in their pocket.

Some academics also seem reluctant to promote modern thinking until it to, is over 50 years old. If old is good, the hip-roofed barn, 40 foot silo, stanchions, litter carrier, small square bales and a big 60 HP tractor would be all that a dairy producer should need to be productive, efficient and profitable.

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