Restarting and Cleaning Your Compost Bedding Pack Barn

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Restarting and Cleaning Your Compost Bedding Pack Barn.
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Compost bedded pack barns are becoming an increasingly popular alternative housing arrangement for many dairy farmers' lactating herds. Previous research has fueled the growth in popularity, owing mainly to evidence that cows housed in CBP barns had enhanced cow comfort, heat detection, decreased lameness issues, and, in several studies, decreased somatic cell count. However, producers must maintain efficient compost-bedding management to gain the benefits of a CBP barn. The most crucial aspect of running a successful CBP barn is always to provide a nice, dry resting area for the cows.
Compost Barn Clean out
Many growers wipe up their compost bedding once a year in the fall.Some manufacturers will wipe out the packs in the spring; it all depends on the end product. 6 to 12 inches of old bedding material should be left in the barn to assist the fresh pack in starting the microbial activity. When the bedding is hauled from the barn, it can be utilized as agricultural fertilizer or managed to generate a completed sellable compost product.
Composting Bedding Barn Startup
The time of year to establish a compost bed is critical and often overlooked. When the next four to six weeks of weather are forecast to have highs above 50°F, producers should start a new compost bed.This gives the bedding adequate time to begin actively composting, generating heat. Before freezing temperatures, the heat generation rate should ideally be at its peak. When heading into winter, not obtaining appropriate heat generation through the composting process may result in a decline in overall heat output. Farmers have difficulty managing and maintaining proper bedding properties when starting in the cold months. Many farmers restart their compost beds in the fall.
The primary need for starting a compost bed is to cover the barn floor with 1 foot of bedding, either saw dust or dry, fine wood shavings. Use enough bedding to prevent the mixing equipment from touching the barn floor. Several semi-loads of bedding material maybe required. It depends on the barn size, the number of cows, and the pack size.
Bedding Compost  throughout the year
When the compost barn bedding moisture level is between 40 and 60%, new bedding should be added to help maintain a dry surface for the cows. Any amount greater than 60% necessitates the use of additional bedding. Squeezing a handful of bedding is an easy way to test for dampness. The pack is too wet if water leaks or droplets drip from it. The frequency with which bedding should be replaced varies depending on ambient humidity. The recommendation is to add 4 to 8 inches every one to six weeks. Some growers provide bedding in smaller amounts more frequently. Remember adding bedding can become more frequent in humid or wet weather, if the barn is overcrowded, and if moisture evaporation from the pack is insufficient.
Why is this required for bedding composy?
Composting is the broad concept of combining a carbon source with organic material high in nitrogen under the right climatic conditions, in this case, including an adequate amount of oxygen throughout the pack. This mixture causes microbes to begin breaking down all those substances, producing carbon dioxide, water, and heat.The primary carbon source is the bedding material, which is either saw dust or wood shavings. The amount of carbon needed for composting is directly proportional to the amount of nitrogen present. The carbon-to-nitrogen ratio should be between 25:1 and 30:1. This means that far more carbon is required in the pack than nitrogen. If you smell ammonia in the barn, the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is probably less than 25:1. Manure and urine are the primary nitrogen sources.Because the cow constantly contributes nitrogen to the pack, new bedding or a carbon source is required. New bedding also aids in the absorption of any surplus moisture. The process will fail if any of these conditions or sources are missing.
Tilling/stirring the Compost Bed Barn
Tilling the pack twice a day is essential for generating a soft, dry surface for the cows to sleep on. Stirring the pack causes aeration, which exposes and cycles air (particularly oxygen) through the compost bedding. Using a cultivator or roto-tiller on a 3 point compact tractor is the most popular. The ideal stirring depth is roughly 12 inches. Stirring at depths greater than 12 inches, typically with a chisel plow, reduces the amount of new bedding required while raising the overall bedding temperature. Using a long thermometer, measure the pack's temperature 6 to 12 inches below the mattress surface. To enable successful composting, the pack should have an internal temperature of 110-150°F. Stirring the pack after each milking, when the cows are out of the barn, is a simple and successful management approach. It reduces stress on the cows, but it also reduces the possibility of dust from tilling, creating respiratory problems in the cows. Once the tilling is completed, the top layer of bedding will need to dry. Running fans above the pack helps. HVLS fans directly above the pack dry it out the most. Keeping the cows off the pack ( if feasible)  for at least one hour also speeds up the drying process.
Key management techniques are required for compost bedded pack barns to be successful. Understanding how to clean out and restart compost bedding is critical to the success of this type of housing arrangement. When restarting, preserve 6 to 12 inches of old bedding material in the barn. Start the compost bed when is forecasted to have 4-6 weeks of weather is to be above 50°F. Once started, maintain the internal pack temperature of 110-150°F, and add new bedding when the bedding moisture surpasses 60%. Any dairy producer's ultimate goal is high milk output, which occurs when cows are happy and healthy.Providing adequate housing amenities will aid in achieving that goal.

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