One of the big questions we get asked here at Eagle Direct is what kind of bedding should I use for my cows, and why? Sometimes it feels like there’s an overwhelming amount of options to choose from, so cost, comfort and equipment are a few things to take into consideration when making the decision.
Comfort: Sand is often referred to as the gold standard of bedding for dairy cows. It is an inorganic material so it doesn’t promote bacteria growth, and the moisture wicking properties keep the cows clean and dry. Concrete sand is the best kind to use as the larger particles mean it doesn’t compact in stalls, making it easier for the cows to move about without injury. The larger sand particles also make sand-manure separation easier and due to the low moisture content, mastitis and other health issues are reduced.
Cost: Concrete sand is relatively easy material to find, at a reasonable cost. Freestalls use about 26kg of sand per cow per day, however recycling sand can potentially offset the cost of purchasing by as much as 90%.
Equipment: Sand bedding requires a range of equipment for both filling stalls and recycling the bedding. Proper planning of your barn layout is also needed, so that sand can easily be moved about.
A downside to sand as it is abrasive machinery needs to be made from hardy and resilient components to reduce inevitable wear. This is why Eagle Direct supplies the Mensch Sand Shooter to help make moving sand and refilling stalls easier and more efficient. Sand can be dispensed from either side, and there is an optional agitator to prevent sand from settling.
Comfort: Green Bedding or Compost bedding is being used more by farmers as it is a readily available renewable source that can be obtained in large quantities. Fibre bedding captures the indigestible lignin component of plants that is extracted from manure and recycled into soft, fluffy and odourless bedding.
Cost: While Green bedding is an intensive process, it does reduce other factors such as sourcing, transporting and storing materials. It has a higher upfront cost due to the need for specialty equipment, but this is recouped later by the fact that you have a readily available, constant source of bedding.
Equipment: Eagle Direct supply the ValmetalXtra Press- Manure Separation System which makes separating the undigested fibres from manure easy. It works by collecting and homogenizing soiled bedding and waste water, extracting the liquid from the solids and conditioning the remaining fibres. Unwanted waste is simply integrated back into your effluent system.
A downside to green bedding is that solid, dry cakes are not suitable bedding for cows as it is less comfortable and doesn’t absorb moisture. Longer fibres are needed, so a staged separation system is better, despite being less efficient. The Xtra Press screen works to increase capacity and dryness while reducing the time needed.
What both systems have in common though, is that planning and integrated systems will make your operation run smoother and your life much easier. Both systems do require an initial upfront cost, but an integrated feed/manure/bedding system, whether it uses sand or green bedding, saves you time, energy and money. So contact us today on (02) 6394 6064 to find out what works best for your farm, and how to streamline your life.