Standoff / Out-Wintering Pads
Stand-off pads are a low cost method of 'housing' cows and cattle that provide farmers with a cost effective means of expanding herd size.
- Enable quick expansion of herd in a cost effective way
- Provide cows with a dry lie
- Basic annual maintenance
- Effluent coming from the pad can be diverted to existing storage tanks
- Not slippery under the cows' feet
- Provide cows with plenty of space when properly constructed
- Do not increase fixed costs in the long term and will not increase variable costs
It is essential that the stand-off pad is properly constructed, in order to protect the environment as well as to ensure a long working life for the pad. Our hard wearing and impermeable geoplastic liner - which is guaranteed for 20 years and will do longer - is ideal for this sort of housing. It is imperative that there is a proper plan for the effluent coming off the pad and where possible it is advisable to link the pad with your existing slurry storage, thus eliminating risk of pollution whilst also keeping down costs.
There are two ways the pad can be used in winter:
- On/Off Grazing
Can be used late autumn and early spring where there is a risk of pasture damage. In wet weather, animals can be left to graze for 3-4 hours and then put on the pad for the remainder of the day ensuring that pasture damage is kept at a minimum.
- Continuous Use
When grass covers have reached target levels in autumn/winter, it will be necessary to remove animals from pasture and feed silage, and the cows need somewhere to rest. Many pads are constructed beside silage pits thus giving cows access to silage while on the pad. However, if the pad is being used continuously it is advisable to give the top layer of the pad some time to dry out every day as it stops the pad being cut up. Generally farmers report that the pad will be drier if cows are stocked at a reasonable density and areas of the pad can be fenced off as the numbers of cows decline e.g. at calving time.
Cows can be calved on the pad with no problems. If calving seasonally it would be good practice to remove and replace the top 4-6 inches of woodchips on the pad prior to calving. The pad is generally considered to be a healthy environment in which to calve cows - they do not slip on slippery concrete and the fresh air reduces the risk of disease spreading amongst calves. Some farmers report that shy animals - young cows and heifers - should be put on the pad first to reduce any bullying.
(The top 4-6 inches of woodchips can be stored and then spread on the land when they have rotted down (after approx 18 months). Gardeners are often interested in using the used woodchips in the place of manure.)
Site selection is the most important decision to be made when constructing a stand-off pad.
- Choose a sunny site which offers good shelter from the prevailing wind.
- Build above ground level to avoid problems with high water tables.
- Select a site where good drainage system can be installed. So don’t pick a site that has rock underneath as it would make it difficult to dig down for drainage
- The site MUST have an appropriate effluent collecting system so choose a site that has access to the existing effluent disposal system.
- Although the site needs shelter, wind is important to dry out the top of the pad.
- Site should be near silage or other feed to avoid creating work by having to draw silage to the pad or other areas.
- There must be easy access to the pad for stock and vehicles for cleaning and maintenance purposes. It is probably preferable to have a number of access points
- Do not site the pad too near trees as tree roots often search towards water sources.
Minimum areas are required to ensure that each animal has comfortable space on the pad. 12.5 metres per cow is recommended if cows are eating off the pad but this increases to 16 metres per cow if eating on the pad.