This type of feedpad is used for regular supplementary feeding of cows on an area of land that is either formed with a solid foundation and/or concreted to establish a permanent facility. These pads are usually sloped to accommodate rainfall runoff or various cleaning systems to remove manure from cow alleys. Some have the potential for the incorporation of roof structures or side walls to add further protection of the herd during adverse weather.
Permanent feedpads are classified as a point source facility, which requires an appropriately designed effluent system and manure management strategies as cows may occupy the facility multiple times each day and for extended periods throughout the year. Primarily used for supplementary feeding before and after milking, this permanent facility can also be used as a high and dry cattle standoff area over several days if laneway and paddock accessibility is difficult.
Feedpads are commonly used to provide different dietary rations to the main herd, as well as rearing young stock and supplementary feeding dry or lame cows. The stock and feed alley are separated by a permanent cow barrier such as a post and cable system or individual head stanchions, to prevent feed losses due to trampling.
- Opportunity to minimise herd travel from paddocks a greater distance from the dairy and allow a cut and carry approach
- Opportunity to minimise lameness when laneways may be rough
- Centralised shady area (trees/shade sails) to minimise herd heat exposure
- Improved feed utilisation compared with paddock feeding of supplements
- Permanent facility providing flexibility in managing feed, enabling a greater range of supplements to be fed when required
- Potential to reduce farm maintenance costs associated with paddock renovations following soil pugging and compaction
- Opportunity to improve pasture production if pugging can be reduced.
- Opportunity to establish an effluent system that captures more effluent and manure which can be reapplied when soil conditions suit.
- Can involve significant costs associated with earthworks to establish adequate slope
- Can be difficult to retrofit to accommodate expanding herds
- Require large water supplies to accommodate alley cleaning (concreted pads)
- Effluent management is a vital function of the business requiring advanced engineering solutions and skills
- Potential for increased regulatory attention with odour emissions and nutrient runoff
- Can require significant labour input
- Rock and clay foundations
- Concrete pad
- Flood-wash tanks (cow alleys)
- Effluent system
- Mixer wagons
- Tractor (120hp+)
- Ongoing machinery maintenance costs, fuel
- Water supply
- Manure spreading
- Structurally designed and engineered to provide permanent infrastructure that accommodates adequate space for herds and machinery
- Siting for optimal cow traffic flow
- Appropriately designed and managed facility to prevent cow injury and discomfort
- Close proximity to feed bunkers and machinery to handle and supply a range of feeds
- Depending on design and management, some losses associated with feed wastage will occur
- Appropriately designed and engineered effluent management systems with the capability to handle liquid, slurry and solids at the expected volumes
- Agronomic plan and management strategy to handle and manage manure stockpiles
- Dry scraping manure and stockpiling
- Solid manure spreading and cultivation
Given there are many different types of feedpad systems, careful consideration is needed to ensure the most appropriate system is chosen to suit the intended purpose
- Given the capital costs, an appropriately engineered design will be important