Feeding out options

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Feeding out in Redpath clear roofed Dairy housing

Each farm will often operate different feed-out regime's

(1)  Feed alongside outer walls:

Placing feed onto a concrete pathway or trough that runs the full length of the buildings outer walls is a popular method of feeding out.  The path will typically be up to 1.8m wide in allowance for the cows flicking out of reach some of the feed, which then the farmer can simply go along and sweep or scrape it back into reach afterwards. The path will also likely incorporate an upstand along the length of the pole-line, which is in place to prevent the feed from being dragged into the litter area and the litter being pushed out.  Often there will be a pathway on the inside of the building outer pole lines - for where the front feet of the cows stand whilst feeding, - this is there to prevent a hollow or damp area developing from trampling.  There is also an option to include a feedcover weather protection eave overhead above the feed drop area along the outer walls. 

(2) Feed along outer walls - with 2.5m "standing pathway" full length on inside:

This set up is essentially the same as in item (1) above except that there is a 2.5m pathway wide along the full length of the building inside the outer pole lines.  This pathway is for the cows to fully stand on whilst feeding and any effluent dropped onto whilst feeding may then be scraped clean to the effluent pond. A shallow nib is usually incorporated into the edge of the pathway to prevent the litter being dragged onto it & effluent draining back onto the litter.  The balance of the shelter is kept as a deep litter loafing area.

(3) Central service lane feed out cover:

The Redpath central service lane system is becoming more and more popular with many farmers as it offers a fully enclosed feedout shelter without the need to work around the perimeter of the building or drop feed outside of the shelters protection. Typically the central service lane is a 6m or 7.6m arch span that connects the main loafing areas together so that the barn appears as "one unit"  For instance you might have 1 x 10.65m deep litter loafing area, with a 6m central service lane connected to one side - then followed by another 10.65m loafing deep litter area.  The cows in the loafing area all reach through to feed from the centre service lanes feed troughs or pathways.

(4) Cows exit to a 'self-feed" system

With this system the cows will actually leave the shelter to walk out onto a concrete pad located at either the end or the sides of the shelter. The cows may then feed at their leisure from the supplied feed stack / silage etc - and are left to return to the loafing area on the deep litter as & when they desire.  This system has the cows self-managing themselves to some extent and requires the farmer to scrape clear the effluent that is dropped on the exposed feedpad portion of this system

Overview: 

Each feed system has their strengths and weaknesses, some systems will cost less/more than others and some systems will suit farms with limited staff numbers as they are more efficient time-wise to operate. It may also depend on the frequency of feeding that you are planning and the type of feed that you are feeding as to what system best suits your needs.  Talk to Redpath to discuss all of the options and what might best suit your own needs.

Many farmers have advised us that the shelter feed-out system has a very large effect on feed uptake and minimises wastage. This becomes especially important when feeding out the more expensive supplements and minerals.  

Feed considerations when / if using deep litter floor system:

The suggested ratio of dry matter as a % of feed is 30 -35%.  Feeding less than this amount WILL have an effect of the moisture content of solids and may cause an on-going floor wetness issues when standing off cows for long periods of time, or wintering.  Please check with your consultant / vet on feed mixes that will allow cost-effective 30-35% dry matter feeding when the cows are in the shelter.

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