Permanent Feedpad


3 min read

Benefits Limitations System design considerations Likely costs

A feedpad is used for regular supplementary feeding and loafing of cattle on an area of land that is either formed with a solid foundation and/or concreted to establish a permanent feedpad. This page discusses how feedpads offer a solution to issues like animal lameness and heat stress, while allowing efficient feed use. However, they require significant work to establish and maintain, as well as a strong effluent management system. This page also details the costs, including infrastructure and machinery, while emphasising the need for careful selection of the right feedpad system. 

Feedpads are usually sloped to accommodate various cleaning systems to support cow alley washing. Some have the potential for the incorporation of roof structures or side walls.

This stage is classified as a point source facility, which requires an appropriately designed effluent system and management strategies as cattle may occupy the facility multiple times each day for extended periods throughout the year.

Herd benefits

  • Opportunity to minimise lameness when laneways are problematic
  • Centralised shady area (trees/ shade sails) to minimise heat exposure and production downturns

Feed benefits

  • Significant reduction in feed ration wastage and better feed utilisation
  • Permanent facility providing flexibility in managing the herds dietary intake allowing a greater range of supplements to be fed

Management benefits

  • Helps reduce farm maintenance costs associated with paddock renovations following pugging and compaction
  • Concrete feed pads are not suitable for standing off cows for long periods of time
  • Opportunity to increase 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


  • Potential for significant earthworks to establish adequate slope
  • A permanent facility which is difficult to retrofit to accommodate expanding herds
  • Requirement for large water supplies to accommodate alley cleaning
  • Effluent management is a vital function of the business requiring advanced engineering solutions and skills
  • Potential for increased regulatory attention with odour emissions and community complaints
  • Requires significant labour input
  • Risk of cow injury or death due to confinement of the herd

System design considerations


  • Structurally designed and engineered to provide permanent infrastructure accommodating adequate space for feeding only

Herd (animal health and welfare)

  • 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


  • Appropriately designed and engineered effluent management systems with the capability to handle liquid, slurry and solids at the expected volumes
  • Agronomic plan and machinery to recycle nutrients generated from the facilities to enhance fodder production
  • Sufficient skilled labour and site management to undertake daily site operations including contingency planning

Other jobs

  • Dry scraping manure and stockpiling
  • Solid manure spreading and cultivation
  • Dairy feed push-up

Adviser tips

  • Given there are many different types of feedpad systems, careful consideration is needed to ensure the most appropriate system is chosen to suit the indended purpose.

Overall likely costs

Typical cost $425 plus/cow at 3.5-4m/c (basic pad and area preparation, not including machinery, equipment or roof structures)

Significant component costs of infrasturcture:

  • Rock and clay foundations
  • Concrete pad
  • Floodwash tanks (cow alleys)
  • Earthworks
  • Effluent system
  • Mixer wagons
  • Tractor (120hp+)


  • Ongoing machinery maintenance costs (annually) and fuel
  • Water supply
  • Manure spreading
Last updated: Sep 2023

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