Capacity: now and future
Consider current herd size – how much space (m2) per cow? If you wanted to expand in the future, would you have the room?
Siting and orientation
Consider weather and wind, proximity to the dairy, water points, drains, effluent ponds. Think about vehicle access, distance from boundaries and easements etc.
Topography, soil type and slope
Consider the natural slope and drainage of the proposed site. What will happen to storm water? Will you need to undertake earthworks? Soil investigations and permeability tests establish load tolerance and likelihood of pad surface cracks, nutrient leaching and seepage into effluent storage.
Impact on ground and surface water
Consider how siting and effluent runoff management will impact ground and surface water. Remember, runoff containing effluent must not leave the boundary of your property.
Odour, dust, noise
Cow numbers, climate, type of feed and feed pad management all affect feed pad odour. What buffer distance is planned? Fine particle dust can be managed by good laneway design and regular management. Buffer zones help reduce noise too – very important if you have neighbours close by.
Surface construction material
The feed pad surface should prevent wastewater from reaching sub-soil. It needs to be hoof friendly, non-slip and easy to clean and maintain.
Feed out access
Vehicles require a minimum of 3.7 m for easy access – 4 m for all weather access. Have you allocated enough room for the distribution of feed as well as access for cleaning? Large trucks need high clearance.
Cow access to dairy, loafing pad, feed areas
Routes for laneways should permit easy cow flow and allow for herd expansion.
Stock need access to water close to where they will be feeding. You may need water for cleaning the feed pad. How will water be delivered to the site? If collecting off roofs, how will rain water be diverted and stored?
Effective drainage is important for all weather access. Can your proposed feed pad handle a flood or one-in-20-year-24-hour storm event? You may need diversion banks and catch drains to carry storm runoff and effluent.
Will you need access to power at the feed pad site – now and in the future?