Are composting barns healthy for cows?
By providing cover to your herd and allowing for the use of sawdust and other forms of clean, warm and dry bedding, composting barns can measurably increase the health of your animals, subsequently reducing your vet bills.
The composting process that occurs beneath the cows produces natural heat, with bedding warmth reaching anywhere from 40C to 60C. This helps to evaporate any residual moisture and works to kill pathogens, which reduces cases of mastitis.
For a composting barn to be healthy for cows, feeding along each side requires a concrete scraper lane for the cows to stand on and 750mm of feed face/cow.
A deep ripper attachment is needed to mix and allow oxygen into the bedding twice-daily, both for cow and bedding/compost health.
What is the best composting barn in New Zealand?
The best composting barn will be one that is built to your needs, by an experienced team, with the highest quality materials.
At SmartShelter we design barns to offer comfortable space of 8-10m² per cow (depending on annual use and whether feeding is inside the structure or on a seperate feed pad), and 750mm of feed space per cow.
A rounded design with a high roof, our composting barns feature industry-leading airflow, which is critical to the composting process of the bedding, while also decreasing the likelihood of your herd contracting airborne disease.
How do I set up a composting barn?
Interested in setting up a composting barn? The first step is to identify a flat, well-drained area on your property. While you can expect to seriously reduce or eliminate effluent run-off with a composting barn, drainage remains key if you are to keep the bedding dry.
The next – and final – step is a simple one. Call SmartShelters to book an appointment. Our experienced team will listen to your wants and needs, and find a solution that’s right for you. We’ll then construct the composting barn in quick time, allowing you to enjoy the benefits sooner.
What is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic fermentation composting?
There are two methods of fermentation composting – aerobic and anaerobic. Anaerobic can be thought of as ‘natural’ decomposition, while aerobic seeks to replicate natural decomposition, while speeding up the process and enabling it to be undertaken on larger scales.
The differences are best summed up in table form:
|Fuelled by oxygen and moisture
|Fuelled by bacteria and moisture
|Large scale (>1m²)
|Small scale (<1m²)
|Fast (material decomposed in 6 weeks)
|Slow (material decomposed in 6 months)
|Kills pathogens and weeds
|May spread pathogens and weeds
SmartShelter composting barns utilise aerobic composting, meaning organic materials are turned into fertiliser faster and on larger scales, while also killing dangerous pathogens.
How do I manage a composting barn?
Composting barns should be cleaned out at least once a year, although this timeframe will depend on what the bedding-turned-fertiliser is intended to be used for – whether to fertilise your own crops or to sell as a finished compost product. 15-30cm of bedding should be left in the barn to help kickstart microbial activity in the new pack.
Starting up a fresh compost bed is usually done in autumn, so that the heat from decomposition is at its peak during the colder winter months. You’ll want to restart your bedding during a period when daily highs are above 10C for a four to six week stretch. This ensures that a good amount of heat is being generated by the time the cooler weather hits.
Atop the 15-30cm of residual bedding you should place 30cm of dry bedding – usually either sawdust or fine wood shavings. You’ll then need to stir the pack regularly – ideally twice a day – to kickstart the aerobic composting process and ensure there’s a soft, dry surface for your herd to enjoy.
Contact a member of our experienced team today to discuss a truly smart shelter solution for your property.