National Feedpad & Contained Housing Guidelines

Dairy Australia in partnership with Agriculture Victoria has developed the National Guidelines for Dairy Feedpads and Contained Housing to support farmers changing to new farm system. They cover how to maximise animal welfare and farm productivity and profitability through good infrastructure design, planning and management.

The national guidelines equip dairy farmers to make informed design and planning decisions on their feeding and housing solutions. The guidelines written by 21 Australian and international experts are based on global best practice and underpinned by published research and engineering standards.

Access the guidelines below and select the topics relevant to dairy farm business needs. A glossary of technical terms, photographs and figures provide a clear understanding of information.

Feeding and housing infrastructure

Choosing suitable feeding and housing infrastructure requires careful consideration of short and long-term plans for the dairy farm business. A summary of infrastructure options is provided below - refer to chapter 8 of the guidelines for detailed information, and also the Alternate Feedbase and Herd Management Review.

Temporary feed-out area: A movable feeding area that can be placed in various locations on the farm, such as a bare paddock, sacrifice paddock or laneway without a prepared surface. Feed may be fed on the ground or in troughs depending on the feeding system and type of livestock.

Basic feed-out area: A compacted earthen feeding area shared by cows and vehicles where feed is offered to livestock. It is a functional and minimalistic setup that can be moved to another location on the farm if needed but with some effort.

Formed earthen feedpad: A compacted surface area for cows and vehicles with fixed structures like concrete troughs, nib walls, cables, electric fencing wires and narrow cement strips for cows to stand on while eating, as well as loafing areas with or without shade structures.

Concrete feedpad: Usually located adjacent to the dairy off the main farm laneway. The pad generally consists of a concrete feed alley that is used by vehicles for delivering feed and a separate alley that cattle stand on whilst feeding.

Roofed feedpad: A structure designed to provide shelter and feeding space for cows which consists of an enclosed or partially enclosed area with a roof, typically supported by columns or walls. The feedpad usually has a concrete base to facilitate easy cleaning and is equipped with purpose-built troughs or nib walls.

Cattle shelters: Engineered structures where cows can rest and loaf comfortably on loose bedding. They may have solid or corrugated iron roofs, clear plastic film or shade sails. Feed and water can be provided inside the shelter through troughs or along nib walls in a central feed alley or along the shelter's perimeter.

Loose housing – deep litter pack: Generally covered yards with bedding added daily to absorb urine and faeces. These facilities can be built with or without feed bunks and concrete alleyways, depending on their use and other facilities available. These systems become difficult to manage on a large scale (>70 cows).

Loose housing – compost bedded pack: Consists of a large, open resting area usually bedded with sawdust or dry, fine wood chips and manure composted into place and mechanically tilled at least twice a day to aerate the pack and actively manage the composting process. Cows housed in loose housing facilities benefit from increased area to rest and exercise compared to a freestall.

Dairy dry lot: Typically have centralised roofed shelters over composted bedding packs, located in earthen pens that are adequately sloped for drainage to a centralised manure collection system. Typically, feeding infrastructure and water supply are located away from the shelters. These systems are most suited in hot, arid climates with suitable soils that facilitate drainage.

Freestall: Open-air, partially or fully enclosed structures where cows are housed 24 hours per day. The term ‘freestall’ refers to the bedding area (stall), which dairy cows are free to enter and leave, as opposed to being contained in pens. Freestalls are built with feeding tables either located centrally or along one or both sides of the facility.

  • National Guidelines for Feedpads and Contained HousingPDF8.81 MB
  • Alternate Feedbase and Herd Management ReviewPDF5.2 MB

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