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Off-Paddock Facilities Guide

Find out which off-paddock structure best suits your needs...

Click the + icons to choose an answer for each of the 10 questions below.

As you complete the questions, to the right of each answer you'll see how the structures stack up based on the key below. Green means good to go while red or orange indicates a risk that needs to be addressed.

Once you've completed your answers, hit "calculate results" to see a list of structures ranked in order of suitability based on your inputs. Click on each type for more detailed information and case studies…


Good to go
May be issues that require investigating
May not be suitable


Permanent Feedpad


Loose Housed Barn – Soft Bedding


Loose Housed Barn - Slatted Concrete


Freestall Barn


Stand-off Pad
1. How long do you need the cows to stay off paddock?
Animal welfare concerns mean that some structures are better suited than others to house cows for long periods. Both the covered feed pad options are viable so long as the area per cow is increased to allow around 8-10m2/cow. A freestall is the gold standard but requires regular use to justify the cost. There is also a different set of requirements for milking out of the structure long term. Check with your milk company.
2. What is your main reason for investing?
Your reasons for investing quickly shape the sort of structure you should consider.
3. What type of system are you currently operating?
4. How well is your current system performing?
As you invest in off-paddock systems additional attention to detail, including more rigorous management of cost is required. People who are already performing well are more likely to perform well during the transition and in the ongoing operation of a new system.
5. What type of system do you intend to operate?
While any of these pieces of infrastructure can accommodate any system, some are more suited to more intensive systems and you would have to intensify your system to balance the budget.
6. Who will manage the farm
Addition of infrastructure, especially hosing, requires a different set of specialist skills to the average farm. If you intend to employ average managers who change regularly or even sharemilkers on 3-5 year contracts they will have to go through the learning curve each time they change. More intensive systems are suited to stable management.
7. How would you describe the team's level of stockmanship?
As you move into partially and fully housed structures the level of stockmanship required escalates rapidly. Moving systems is only likely to make life harder if stockmanship is not already top notch.
8. How flexible do you need the system be to respond to volatility?
Increased price and climate volatility can mean that rapid adaptation of the farm system is required to maintain profit levels between years. If this is your goal you will need to be flexible with your system. Others may choose to ride out the lows and set their system to maximise the highs, and therefore require less flexibility.
9. How long do you intend to own the farm
Because this infrastructure can require a heavy investment that other farmers may not want to pay you for when it comes to selling the farm we recommend that you only invest heavily when you intend to stay on the farm for the foreseeable future.
10. How much are you prepared to invest?
Each type of infrastructure requires a different level of investment. If you know how much you are able to spend we can eliminate some options for you.

Your Results

Once you've clicked the "calculate results" button above, this list will show structures ranked in order of suitability. In the right columns you can see an overall score and number of red flags (indicating structure may not be suitable). Click on each structure for more detailed information...

Score Red flags

FP: Permanent Feedpad

A permanent feed pad is a specifically designed area with a hard surface used to feed out supplements. Normally located next to the farm dairy.

LHSB: Loose Housed Barn - Soft Bedding

A fully covered facility, usually built with plastic or steel roofing. The base is a soft bedding material such as straw, sawdust or woodchips, which will absorb some effluent.

LHSC: Loose Housed Barn - Slatted Concrete

A fully covered facility, usually with a plastic film over a frame type roof and a concrete slatted floor covering an effluent holding bunker, large enough to hold the effluent for extended periods.

FB: Freestall Barn

A fully covered facility usually built with steel roofing. Usually have a concrete floor area and a softer surface area that provides individual spaces (freestall) where cows lie down.

SP: Stand-off Pad

A semi-permanent feepad is a specially built area where cows can be taken off paddock for periods of time.