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Barn floor safety grooves

Prevent your livestock from doing the splits by carving grooves into the concrete

I know how I feel when I slip on the ice. Animals that slip on a barn floor and end up with legs-akimbo need help to get back on their feet. Some are so seriously injured they have to be euthanized. Smooth concrete floors don’t have enough traction, especially when they’re wet. To a cow, it’s like walking on ice. One sure-footed option is to saw grooves in the concrete in a parallel or diamond-shaped pattern.

Nick Jones operates a barn floor grooving business in Portage, Wisconsin. He says the goal is to allow the animals to step on at least one groove with every step.

"It’s a ½” wide groove every 3” apart and it’s about 3/8” deep," says Jones. "You want to get the depth in the concrete because it’s how the cattle catch on it, or the hogs catch on it. You don’t want to have the grooves too shallow because they’ll catch on it, but they’ll slide right out of it. It prevents the cow from doing the splits."

The groove size and pattern isn’t set in stone. Jones says you can choose different widths of grooves, depths, and spacing. However, he cautions against making the grooves too wide because it can be uncomfortable for the cows to walk on.

Etching the floor can be done anytime, whether the concrete is a week old or 100-years old. Jones explains the equipment needed and how the process works.

"I use a concrete saw that has three ½” blades on it, and I have three of them," says Jones. I have the smaller ones, you can get some bigger ones but the smaller ones I feel you can get into smaller places, and you can get closer to the feed bunk and stalls. I come in there, either I or you can remove the manure, just hook up the water hose to my saw, cut it, once I’m done the cattle are back on it. So there’s really no down time.

Jones says a grooved floor isn’t hard to clean. The action of the cows walking over it helps loosens the debris.

Learn more about barn flooring options

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