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August 31, 2009

Last week I went to a Dairy Nutrient Management Field Day, but I am not going to write about nutrient managment. I am going to talk about sand bedding for dairy farms. There are many different types of bedding used on dairy farms: sand, sawdust, straw, shavings, wood chips, and probably types I’ve never heard of. Many factors go into deciding what type of bedding to use: cost, availablity, equipment, quality, and need. I am a firm believer in using sand for bedding, but I don’t own a dairy farm, I just work on them. I like sand because it is inorganic and doesn’t grow bacteria very well. But it can be costly, it is very corrosive to equipment, and it may not be available everywhere. The second dairy farm that I worked on had sand bedding. They milked approximately 250 cows and added more sand once a week to the stalls. This dairy did not recycle the sand. This dairy was the Penn State Dairy and cash flow isn’t as much of an issue, thanks to research and the University. The first and third dairies that I have worked on use wood shavings for bedding. But back to the field day I went to, it was held at a dairy. On this dairy they utilize a flush system to clean out the freestall barn. Once the water is flushed through the barn, this waste water is run over a sand settling lane. This allows the sand to settle out and be recylced. Recycling sand technolgy is still very new. I have seen three different systems, and the one I saw at the field day was my favorite! I have seen a mechanical seperation system. This system is very costly. It involves an auger, sand separator equipment, a hydrocyclone for fine sand particles, and various other pits, and pipes. It was very complicated looking and was hard to manage. The average farmer would not be able to afford this system with out help from a government agency or grant money. The second system I saw, envolved a lot of concrete, with various settling lanes and stacking areas, and pits. It looked very confusing and also seemed like it took to much time. The third system, which I saw at the field day, amazed me. It consisted of one sand settling lane and a nice area to stack the sand. The farmer talked so highly of this system and told us that he was recycling 80% of his sand. His system also included a three stage manure lagoon system. Seeing this simple sand system showed me that it can be done!! If I owned a dairy I would be using one of these systems!!

Sand Settling Lane

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 30, 2010 4:23 pm

    We are planning on building a new dairy barn with a robot milker and we are very interested in doing sand for bedding. We are trying to get information on how we can separate the sand from the manure and only have to clean the basin out every three to six months. The liquid would go into a pond which we are currently using. We want to avoid getting sand into that pond. And we don’t to be hauling that sand away every week or month. Here in MN from Dec to March we can’t really haul. And they once the crop is in we are done hauling till Oct. So we are wondering how can we figure out some storage for the sand and how big we need to go. We want to talk to some one that knows about sand bedding and the manure system that goes with it. Here in MN it seems nobody really knows what should be done. So if you can help us in any way by e-mailing us so ideas or give us some phone numbers that we can call a specific person on this idea would be very helpful.

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