Bedded Pack Barns: Cow Comfort and Compost Pack

An article in Cowsmopolitan Magazine—yes you read that right—talks about the benefits of bedded pack barns and cow health, and also explains the difference between a deep bedded pack (DBP) and compost bedded pack (CBP) system. 

The article says, “The comfortable environment of a BP [bedded pack] system reduces lameness and provides for cows’ deep and restful sleep that in turn positively impacts milk production.”

The Benefits of a Bedded Pack Barn

  • Increases cow comfort
  • Can increase milk production
  • Manure storage with less capital investment and less labor requirement than liquid storage
  • Pack manure mixed with extra carbon is a better soil nutrient then raw manure from typical manure storage.
  • Particularly adapted to grazing dairies since barns are used only 6 months and allow plenty of time to clean
  • An option for outdated dairies looking for build a combined housing-feeding barn with manure storage
  • Enhances dairy farm conservation practices

What is the difference between Deep Bedded Pack and Compost Bedded Pack?

A Deep Bedded Pack (DBP) uses fresh bedding—usually straw—daily to keep the pack dry and clean. The pack can grow to a depth of 5-6 feet by the end of one winter. A Composted Bedded Pack (CBP) works best with wood shavings or chopped straw, and requires stirring once or twice a day with a tractor-mounted rototiller. 

The DBP can become quite compressed over the winter and can be difficult to clean, but the CBP requires daily maintenance, so it’s really up to the farmer’s preference.  

Composting in a CBP barn is similar to a compost pile. The article says, “When the pack has the correct carbon-nitrogen ratio and air is regularly introduced to the pack by stirring, microorganisms flourish and break down the carbon structures of bedding and manure…Microbial activity in the CBP provides heat throughout the bedding for animal comfort through the winter.”

A report from ten years ago noted a 2000-lb. increase in milk sales per cow that was attributed in part to use of a bedded pack management system. “That same year a study by the Cornell University Department of Applied Economics and Life Sciences concluded that the bedded pack management system was ‘an excellent environment for cattle and provided the intended environmental benefits.’”

Read the full Cowsmopolitan article for more information

A Central Wisconsin Source for Shredded Wood / Wood Shavings for Compost Pack Bedded Barns

Hay Creek Companies in Pittsville, WI, provides a bedding product that is produced by grinding dry wood from old pallets and other wood waste. The wood is ground to a fine consistency by the RotoChopper wood processing machine, and any metal is extracted through a 7-step process.

The finished product is very dry compared to industry standards. It is lab tested at the University of Wisconsin Experimental Farm to have a 12-14% moisture content. The bedding has a fine texture consistency that is very absorbent with less dust, and it tends to hold up longer in high moisture without turning soggy as the traditional sawdust or shaving products do.

Hay Creek Companies delivers in bulk to farms with its own fleet of Hay Creek Express trucks.