Enter your projected pad use and calculate your pad tipping point, the point at which cow behaviour will change and lying time reduces.
If you are thinking about putting in a stand-off pad or are interested in improving cow comfort on your current pad, the DairyNZ off paddock calculator can help you.
Expected number of days before the pad would reach tipping point
Research shows that the tipping point is when the moisture content of the woodchip lying surface reaches 70 – 75% moisture. The moisture surface increases with the number of cows, the length of time cows are on the pad, the space the cows have and the average rain fall. Find out more about the effects of moisture content.
Reduced lying times lead to poor welfare, increased lameness and reduction in feeding when returning to pasture. Cows will choose to lie down rather than graze, which leads to a drop in body condition.
You can lengthen the time it takes to reach the tipping point by altering some management factors. See the effect on the tipping point by reducing the number of hours the cows are on the pad each day and reduce the total number of days per year. If this is possible within your system, then cows will maintain lying times for longer.
If you are not able to change the number of hours per day, or days per year the following solutions are available:
Each time you add a new top layer of fresh woodchip you start at day 0 again. If your calculated tipping point is 30 but you would like to use the pad for around 60 days, you will need to top up the woodchip 30 days after the cows start going onto the pad. This will maintain the lying time across the full 60 days.
The calculator cannot see how well your pad drains. It is well worth investing in good drainage, especially in high rain fall areas to lengthen tipping points and cow comfort. Take a look at the stand-off pad guide drainage section for designs.
Increase the pad size
Although an investment, it might mean your pad tipping point will lengthen considerably, which reduces the requirement to top up woodchip, improves cow welfare with flow on effects to production.
The calculator will not take into consideration the fluid cows produce during calving. Tipping points are likely to be shorter if you calve on your pad. Top up woodchip during calving much more regularly than for dry cows.