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Cool Cows and Climate Change - Information for Dairy Farmers
Shade structures
Case Study: Low-cost earthen feedpad with solid-roofed shade structure
Case Study: Low-cost feedpad with shade cloth structure
Case Study: Higher-cost concrete feedpad with solid-roofed shade structure
Sprinklers and fans
Case Study: Freestall shed evaporative cooling system



Case Study: Higher-cost concrete feedpad with solid-roofed shade structure

Farmer’s name: Rob

Facts about the concrete feedpad:

  • Designed by: Rob, in consultation with structural engineer
  • Built by: Contractors

Other cooling infrastructure on this farm:

  • Sprinklers in dairy yard
  • Some trees

This farm in northern Victoria has opted for a covered concrete feedpad to house its 600 cows for up to six hours a day in summer. The aim was to reduce the milk and fertility losses in hot weather and they have noticed a big improvement in rates of mastitis.

The feedpad was built in 2000 and cost $300,000. The roof was erected in 2008 for about $260,000.

  • The shed is 200 m long.
  • The roof is 18 m wide.
  • The drive alley has a width of 6 m and each feed alley is 5 m wide.
  • The roof is 4 m high at the eaves – pitched at 20°.
  • Open ridge vent is 600 mm wide.
  • 50 m3 of concrete were used in the footings.
  • 550 m3 of concrete was used in the feedpad.
  • Water troughs are located along each side of the shed.

The feedpad is easy to clean and minimal labour is required as it takes only 45 seconds to flood wash each cow alley.

  • The floor is sloped to make flood washing easier.
  • 50 kL of water is used per day for flood washing.
  • Solids and sand in effluent is collected in a large concrete sump.
  • Liquid effluent passes through a weeping wall to a holding pond.

(The effluent system could do with upgrading to handle the increased volume of runoff).

The north-south orientation means that cows are exposed to the sun in the mid-morning and afternoon. In summer, the afternoon sun is likely to increase the heat load of cows on the western side of the pad.

The feedpad is located right next to the dairy holding yard, which is fitted with sprinklers. Cows are sprinkled pre-milking and for longer periods on very hot days.

The cooling capacity of this covered feedpad could be further enhanced at modest cost by installing sprinklers along each side of the central drive alley.

Permanent covered concrete feedpad with iron roof and a central,

open ridge vent in the roof apex.

Pitched roof has a ridge vent to let heat and humidity

escape. It also influences convective air movement.

Central drive alley sloped to the centre to prevent rainfall that comes

through the ridge vent contaminating the feed.

Australian Government - Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry