Comfy flooring for cows – now slats a clever idea
Growing up on his family farm didn't just teach Galway man, Michael Earls, a thing or two about animals – it also helped him to spot a business opportunity.
Earls saw that concrete slats – a type of floor used by farmers when housing cattle – weren't very comfortable for cows.
"One of the big problems with slats is that the cattle are lying on concrete – which is very uncomfortable and can lead to lameness," said Earls. "I spotted that cattle were not thriving as well as they should be on these floors – and I knew that something had to be done to address this."
In 2001, Earls developed a rubber covering for slats which acts as a more comfortable floor for cattle to lie on, according to Earls. "It leads to much less lameness in a herd and allows cattle to thrive more," he explained.
Earls brought this rubber floor cover to the market in 2002 through his company Easyfix Rubber Products.
About 10 years since Earls first set up Easyfix, his company has a turnover of €10m. Farmers in Saudi Arabia, North America and Europe – as well as in Ireland – have snapped up Easyfix's rubber floor cover.
Easyfix is developing the concrete slats used in pig houses as Earls believes the slats also contribute to lameness among pigs.
The firm also developed fences for the Aintree racecourse in Britain. The fences are safer than the traditional wooden stakes and therefore help prevent horses and riders from falling during races.