Out-wintering pads a viable option for some, concludes research

Published 4 March 10

Out-wintering pads (OWPs) offer a sustainable alternative to out-wintering livestock on grassland and a reduced cost alternative to conventional housing according to a three year project part funded by DairyCo and EBLEX under the LINK Research Programme.

The project has shown that these pads are well suited for use by young stock, dry cows, beef sucklers and growing beef cattle. A factsheet with notes on pad design, construction and management is now available from DairyCo and EBLEX. 

The project is currently developing more in-depth guidance on the design and management of OWPs, to reduce the risk of problems such as pad failure and pollution and this information will be available in the autumn.

"This project was commissioned by DairyCo as a result of an increasing interest amongst dairy farmers in the use of OWPs as an alternative to conventional straw yard housing, concrete yards, or the over poaching of fields when used for out wintering cattle," explains Dr Karen Wonnacott, DairyCo Research and Development Manager.

"A comprehensive report including costs, environmental impact, animal welfare implications and the best practice guidelines for the construction and management of the pads for the dairy farmer will be available in the autumn. However, a factsheet with notes on pad design, construction and management is available now," she says.

The factsheet provides information on how to calculate pad size, how to manage feeding and watering facilities as well as advice on drainage and chip size and management. Download here.

Dr Wonnacott concludes, "Joint funding this project with EBLEX has made complete sense. The research is relevant to dairy and beef farmers alike and practical pad management information as well as environmental guidance will be useful to both groups of producers.  We anticipate co-funding more projects in the future."

A factsheet about the project is available from DairyCo (www.dairyco.org.uk) and EBLEX (www.eblex.org.uk). 

Ends

The research is funded under the 'Sustainable Livestock Production' LINK Research Programme, with support from DairyCo, EBLEX Ltd, Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), S W Forest, British Grassland Society, Woodchips (Barnstable) and Dave Simmons Contracting (N Tawton); with government funding provided by Defra, also with Environment Agency Support.

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