Q.: I lost an expensive cow when she slipped on manure on the dairy barn floor and couldn't get up. Is there a sure-fire way to make the floor safe for cows?

A.: We can't guarantee against all eventualities, but on a floor that is reasonably well maintained it works to cut grooves in the alleys running in the same direction as the traffic. One company recommends grooves 1/2 inch wide and 3/4 inch deep spaced 3 3/4 inches on centers. Another recommends grooves 5/8 to 3/4 inch wide, 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 inches on centers. You can get planing machines at many rental yards that are equipped to be set to cut grooves of these sizes and spacings. Some machines cut grooves in a 2-foot swath at the rate of about 5 feet per minute. Experience indicates that the cutting can even be done while the cows are in the barn; the noise doesn't seem to bother them. However, you ought to use a catalytic exhaust attachment to keep from polluting the barn atmosphere with engine fumes.