As a management consultant at CowFocused Housing, Dr. Jeffrey Bewley understands the value a comfortable, cow-friendly environment can have in terms of dairy farm production and profitability.
And as an expert in cow-focused barn designs and construction, Dr. Bewley knows the compost-bedded pack barn to be one of the most effective systems for maximizing cow comfort—not to mention reducing rates of disease, improving health and creating a more efficient dairy operation.
But to ensure you’re managing a successful compost-bedded pack barn environment—one capable of producing high rates of quality milk daily—Dr. Jeffrey Bewley recommends focusing on three crucial elements before, during and after facility construction.
Proper Design and Placement
Before constructing your compost-bedded pack facility, Dr. Bewley suggests selecting a site that maximizes barn ventilation. Depending on where you’re located, an east-west orientation may be the best way to achieve this quality. A location that is slightly elevated, and that contains a concrete or clay base, is also highly recommended.
When designing your barn, it’s also important to create a space ideal for maximizing the number of cows you can milk at one time. Your structure should provide space for water and food away from the pack—and should provide multiple, narrow entryways as opposed to one large entrance.
As you’re constructing your barn, Dr. Jeffrey Bewley recommends providing a minimum of 100 sq. ft. per cow. This is crucial to maximum comfort and to avoiding an overcrowded, higher-risk environment.
The compost-bedded pack—which generally consists of sawdust or dry wood shavings with manure—should be stirred (aerated) at least twice a day, and at least between 10 and 12 inches deep, says Dr. Bewley. Also, new bedding (2-8 inches) should be added when the pack begins to get damp.