These pads 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.
- Opportunity to minimise lameness when laneways are problematic
- Centralised shady area (trees/ shade sails) to minimise heat exposure and production downturns
- 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
- 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 + machinery to handle and supply a range of feeds.
Management (effluent, bedding)
- 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
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)
- Effluent system
- Mixer wagons
- Tractor (120hp+)
- Ongoing machinery maintenance costs (annually) and fuel
- Water supply
- Manure spreading
- 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.
- Dry scraping manure and stockpiling
- Solid manure spreading and cultivation
- Dairy feed push up
Off-Paddock Systems Resources
These resources will help with decisions around investment, planning, design, construction and management of off-paddock facilities.
Making the right choice
Investing in off-paddock facilities?
This booklet will help you to make an informed decision by assessing the benefits of various off-paddock facilities.
Build it right (Technical information)
IPENZ Practice Note 29 Dairy Housing
Note: IPENZ Practice Note 27 - Farm Dairy Infrastructure (above) offers industry guidance in the design and construction of key farm dairy infrastructure components. The Feed Pads section can be downloaded separately here.
Managing off-paddock systems
Dairy Cow Housing Guide
A good practice guide for dairy housing in New Zealand.
Dairy Cow Housing Assessment
This assessment tool will help to identify any cow comfort issues that may impact on welfare and production.
Stand-off pads booklet
Your essential guide to planning, design and management.