WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES HIGH FRICTION, ANTI-FATIGUE FLOORING MAKE FOR HORSES AND CATTLE?
Dirt, concrete, and even hay can become uncomfortable for horses and cattle to lay on. Studies have shown that high traction, anti-fatigue flooring can make all the difference in the health and wellbeing of animals. Cows have a more relaxed gait on high traction flooring, being able to find their footing easier. Also, because of the extra cushioning, cattle feel more comfortable and rest more on anti-fatigue flooring, and the more rested your cows are, the more milk they’ll produce.
IS STABLE FLOORING A WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT?
Although stable flooring may seem like a big investment, purchasing mats can pay you back. As noted above, stable flooring can add to the wellbeing of your animals, but that’s not only the benefit of stable flooring.
You also can reduce bedding by a third, and the savings from this add up every year. Since you’re using bedding materials just to soak up waste and urine, you won’t need to put down nearly as much bedding. With a bit of trial and error, you can find the right amount of bedding for your animals. The goal is to put enough matting down to soak up the urine, so if the stable is wet and smells, add more bedding. The next day, if you find lots of dry bedding, then take some out. If you’re paying €150 per month for bedding, you could save €50. After the first year, the mats will pay for themselves.
Lastly, consider the time it takes to muck your stalls. It’s a backbreaking task, but what if you could eliminate a third of the bedding, and therefore limit the amount of waste you’d have to remove? It always pays to work smarter, not harder.
ARE STABLE MATS DURABLE?
The two types of mats sold at Stable Mats Ireland, Rubber and EVA foam, are incredibly durable products. Rubber is an eco-friendly material made from recycled tyres which have been crushed, pulverised, heated, and pressed under tremendous pressure. This rubber is then hardened through the process of vulcanisation, a chemical process in which the rubber is heated with sulphur, an accelerator, and activator to a temperature of 140–160°C.
This process creates cross-links between rubber molecules and adds elasticity and strength to the rubber. Rubber mats were literally forged in a crucible of heat and pressure, to give you one of the most shock absorbing materials in the world, ready to stand up to the tough rigours of heavy weights and the regular wear and tear of farm life.
In addition, EVA foam is brilliant material for cushioning heavy weights, and possessing resilience to return to its original shape. EVA is a closed-cell foam, so during the foaming process, small pockets of carbon dioxide are formed inside of the foam. These pockets are self-contained entities, not able to absorb liquid, and this means that EVA is water resistant.
EVA foam stands out among other materials for its anti-bacterial properties. EVA is non-porous which makes it the ideal choice for milking parlours. EVA foam repels chemical disinfectants that are used to clean them.
Two major metrics to determine the durability of mats include density and thickness. Density is used for EVA foam mats and is measured by the amount of material that is packed into a cubic meter (kg/cbm). Mats with higher density are perfect for large animals to walk on. For example, the 20mm Cow Horse Stable Jigsaw EVA Comfort Mats Black 1.22m x 0.91m has a density of 330 kg/cbm. There’s just so much material packed into every cubic meter.
Thickness is also another factor that determines durability, primarily for rubber mats. On Stable Mats Ireland you’ll find two thicknesses for rubber mats: 12mm and 17mm. 12mm mats are perfect for smaller animals, like calves, goats, or sheep, but if you need mats for full grown cows and horses, then it’d be best to purchase 17mm mats.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EVA PARLOUR PIT MATS AND EVA STABLE MATS?
There is a slight difference between the density of our EVA Parlour Pit Mats and the EVA Comfort Stable Mats. Let’s examine two types of mats, the 20mm Cow Horse Stable Mats which are listed above and the 20mm Parlour Pit Mats. Although they’re both the same thickness, the Stable mats are much denser at 330 kg/cbm, whilst the parlour pit mats have a density of only 120 kg/cbm.
Parlour pit mats are ideal for the operators to walk on, and shouldn’t be used for stable flooring. It might be best to purchase both stable and parlour pit mats in order to fully stock your dairy with anti-slip, anti-fatigue flooring.
WHAT COLOURS ARE THE MATS AVAILABLE IN?
The EVA foam mats come in a wide assortment of colours, ranging from green and black reversible tiles to red and blue reversible tiles. It should be noted that reversible mats are the perfect choice to purchase for your barn because different coloured mats can be arranged in a design as a path indicator to mark the way on the flooring. It adds more variety to your flooring choices with infinite customising possibilities.
Most of the rubber mats available on Stable Mats Ireland can be selected for aesthetic purposes, enhancing a drab concrete floor with colour and life. A popular favourite on the site is the 20mm Dog Bone Rubber Jigsaw Mats, which are incredibly easy to install and mimic clay bricks. These mats can breathe new life into a concrete patio, creating a pleasing space to sit and enjoy your garden.
WHAT TYPES OF SURFACE TEXTURES ARE YOUR MATS AVAILABLE IN?
For the rubber mats, there are two major styles of surface textures that add traction to the mats: stud dot and amoebic. Rubber mats with a stud dot surface are the perfect mat to improve traction for younger and older animals who have troubles getting up and down. The only issue is that the waste can get trapped between the protruding dots, making it harder to clean. The underside of every rubber mat has drainage furrows to direct water away.
However, many farmers have found success flipping the stud dot mats over, and having the drainage furrow side facing up. The drainage furrows are smooth, but also offer great friction for large animals to gain their footing on. Since the waste collects in the grooves, it’s easy to sweep off and clean out. Also, the stud dot surface elevates the mat off of the ground and allows drainage underneath.
Rubber mats with an amoebic surface is the perfect for waste removal because not much waste gets trapped in between the slightly raised shapes. The amoebic surface (which gets its name from the little amoeba shapes found on the surface) is the perfect middle-of-the-road mat, well-suited for adult animals who have no issues getting up and down.
EVA foam mats can have one of two types of surfaces: a tatami surface and a knurled surface. The tatami surface mimics traditional Japanese mats used for martial arts. It has incredible traction and can provide horses and cattle with solid footing even in wet and slippery conditions. The other surface texture is a standard knurling pattern with intersecting divots to add traction.
CAN YOU USE STABLE MATS FOR OTHER PURPOSES?
Absolutely! Since both rubber and Eva foam mats are incredibly durable, weather-resistant, and easy to install, stable mats can be used for many purposes:
-Dog runs and pet enclosures
-Garage workshop flooring
-Caravan, Camper, and Mobile Home Matting
-Bespoke Flooring For Sporting, Theatrical, and Music Events
If you wandering onto this site hoping you’ll find the ideal fix for your garden or workshop, please feel welcome, and be sure to peruse the full selection of mats on Stable Mats Ireland.
WHAT HAPPENS TO STABLE MATS WHEN THEY GET COLD?
Rubber mats are some of the most resilient flooring products on the market, however, they can be affected by changes in temperature. Unlike most materials, rubber actually contracts in heat and expands in cold. Vulcanised rubber experiences fewer issues with contraction and expansion as other types of rubber, but expansion should be taken into consideration when purchasing rubber mats.
EVA foam mat is a closed cell foam, comprising self-contained pockets of gas. EVA foam is entirely waterproof and non-absorbent, making it the ideal mat for stables and paddocks. But EVA can contract in cold temperatures and expand in warm temperature. The contraction in cold temperatures isn’t a major issue, but foam tiles can expand in warm temperatures.
Leave a gap at the walls when installing rubber and foam mats for expansion because this will prevent buckling and swelling.
WHAT KIND OF CLEANING IS INVOLVED WITH KEEPING UP STABLE MATS?
During the course of regular use, both foam and rubber mats are incredibly easy to clean. Muck out the stalls, clearing all water out, and use a pressure washer to clean any gunk and residue off of the mats. However, over time, grime and bacteria might build up underneath the mats, even the gaps in interlocking EVA foam mats. In order to minimise odours, it’s essential to lift the mats regularly to clean underneath.
Cleaning and disinfecting practices are imperative to maintain the health and wellbeing of your animals, especially dairy cows. Here’s where the major difference between rubber and EVA foam comes to light: EVA foam is non-porous, whilst rubber—even vulcanized rubber—can have microscopic pores through the manufacturing process. Porous surfaces are harder to clean as waste and bacteria can seep into the tiny holes, and will therefore have heavier soil loads after cleaning.
As a result of heavy use, most milking parlours will need to be cleaned twice a day to kill bacteria. Whether it’s an iodine or a glutaraldehyde compound, EVA foam mats hold up incredibly well to regular cleaning and disinfecting, allowing you to remove almost all traces of soil and bacteria.
Stalls used for housing lactating dairy cows should be cleaned on a regular basis so, when the cows lay down, their udders don’t come into contact with bacteria on the floor. Be sure to remove all the bedding and equipment before soaking with a water/disinfectant solution and scrubbing the area.
HOW EASY IS IT TO INSTALL STALL MATS?
When installing stable mat flooring, it’s important to acclimatise the mats to the environment before installing them. This is especially true for rubber mats, where the shipping and manufacturing process causes some mats to stretch. Thus, rubber flooring needs time to relax back to its natural shape before installing them. A rubber mat should acclimatise over a period of 12-48 hours, keeping the room temperature steady.
Foam mats are no different in needing time to acclimatise to their environment. Foam shifts and moves around, and therefore, when installing EVA foam mats, leave a 1.25 cm gap between the wall and the mats. This prevents buckling and warping on the mats.
Author: David Van Kooten