9 Benefits of a Manure Solids Bedding Dryer for Your Dairy

Rob Plank
By: Rob Plank November 14, 2019
Manure Bedding Dryers reduce moisture and pathogens in recycled manure solids for immediate reuse as dairy cow bedding. Read this blog to learn about nine advantages of using a Manure Bedding Dryer for your dairy.

You may be surprised at the number of benefits you'll see on your dairy by installing a Manure Bedding Dryer. Here are nine of the top reasons why you should consider installing a Bedding Dryer.

1. Reduce the labor hours required to condition your bedding

The majority of dairies bedding on manure use a screw press for separating and dewatering the manure fibers. These fibers exit the screw press at about 70% moisture, with a few machines capable of getting this moisture content consistently down to about 65% — but that’s near the limit of moisture that can be mechanically removed.  

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Manure Bedding Dryers produce immediately reusable recycled bedding.

After the manure has been separated, it’s usually stacked or windrowed and allowed to compost to reduce pathogens. During this conditioning time, the manure is moved and turned to introduce air and oxygen into the process to aid in composting. This type of conditioning can take hours of payloader time each day.   

Adding a Bedding Dryer removes the moisture in the bedding and reduces pathogens, allowing the bedding to be reused immediately with no further conditioning required.

2. Reduce the amount of moisture you are putting into your stalls and barns

Reducing the bedding moisture down to 50% means less water is reintroduced into the stalls and barn. For example, looking at a 1,000 cow herd that may use an average of 30 pounds of dewatered solids per cow per day, reducing the moisture from 70% down to 50% means an average of 1,440 gallons of water is not being put back into the stalls every day. That is more than a gallon of water per stall.   

This drier bedding is also capable of absorbing more moisture in the stalls and alleys, keeping the cows cleaner.

3. Reduce the initial bacteria loading in your stalls

A triple-pass dryer is used to dry and condition the bedding for use in the stalls. This triple-pass dryer subjects the bedding to a minimum of 155°F for a period of time. This greatly reduces the bacteria population in the bedding.   

Since bacteria need food, water and heat to survive, removing a portion of the water also limits the growth of bacteria once the bedding is put into the stalls.

4. Reduce the somatic cell count in your milk

Somatic cell count is the most widely used indicator of the quality of milk that a dairy produces.    

Cows will spend up to 14 hours per day lying in a stall. During this lying time, the teat ends have the greatest likelihood of being infected with bacteria that will eventually lead to a higher somatic cell count.

Using drier bedding with a lower pathogen loading can reduce your somatic cell count by providing a cleaner surface for your cow to lie on.

5. Increase the average age of your herd

Many dairies manage their somatic cell count by culling the older cows that are more prone to mastitis. By using drier and cleaner bedding, these cows can remain in the herd longer while still producing high-quality milk.

6. Increase milk production

Milk production is tied to the amount of time a cow spends lying down. By increasing cow comfort with dry bedding, the amount of lying time often increases.   

Also, with fewer cases of mastitis, a higher percentage of the overall milk is being shipped. These factors usually lead to an overall increase in milk being shipped from the dairy.

7. Decrease the number of cows in your hospital pen

A high percentage of hospital pen cows are being treated for mastitis. Cleaner, drier bedding will reduce the cases of treated mastitis, thereby reducing the number of cows in the hospital pen and reducing the amount of treated milk being diverted from the bulk tank.

8. Reduce the amount of bedding that needs to be stockpiled for conditioning

One of the primary goals of a good bedding management routine is to have clean bedding to put into the freestalls. Ideally, this means using bedding with no bacteria present. Most of the time, this is not possible, so the next best scenario is bedding with minimal bacteria in it.   

Bedding that is processed through a drier provides this low bacteria material. Using this bedding immediately is best since it contains the lowest amount of bacteria. Since the bedding still contains some moisture and food, the small amount of bacteria present will eventually begin to multiply. The growth curve for bacteria is logarithmic, which essentially means that growth begins slowly, but with a small amount of time, that growth rate begins to explode before eventually levelling off and declining.   

Here’s a graph illustrating a typical growth curve for bacteria.  

As illustrated by the curve, if the number of bacteria in bedding is important (which we know it is), then the best time to introduce the new bedding would be as early as possible prior to the exponential growth phase. Introducing bedding early and often will ensure the cow is lying on the cleanest and driest material possible, while stockpiling bedding can be counterproductive to herd health. 

9. Increase your bottom line

Increasing the bottom line is the goal of most businesses, as it helps to ensure continued operation and growth. This is important during good times and especially important during difficult times of low milk prices. A Bedding Dryer helps add to the bottom line by increasing milk production and lowering management time, while also improving milk quality and the overall health of the herd.  

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Adding a Manure Bedding Dryer can have a positive impact on your dairy’s operation. There are some operational costs, primarily gas and electric usage, associated with a Bedding Dryer, so the above-mentioned benefits need to be carefully weighed against the costs of operating a dryer.

Tags: Bedding Management, Dairy, Agriculture, Manure Management