The Best Freestall Bedding Sand For Separation and High Recovery? McLanahan Recommends Concrete Sand

The purpose of freestall bedding is to provide a clean, dry and comfortable place for cows to lay. Sand satisfies all three of these requirements, as well as gives the additional benefit of limiting the exposure of teat ends to mastitis causing pathogens. Since sand is an inorganic material, it doesn’t support bacteria growth. 

For all of these reasons, sand is often referred to as the “gold standard” of dairy cow bedding and is used by dairy producers around the world. 

What type of sand is best for separation?

McLanahan recommends concrete sand for dairy cow bedding. Concrete sand stays loose in the stalls and readily drains away any urine or dripped milk, so it remains clean, dry and comfortable. 

Not only is concrete sand excellent for cows, it is the best sand for sand separation. Concrete sand is a standard known product, and with a standard known product, separation performance can be better predicted. 

What type of sand is best for high recovery?

Another benefit of concrete sand for dairy cow bedding is that it contains minimal fine material, which can cause some stalls to become hard and uncomfortable. Because concrete sand contains minimal fine material, sand recovery and cleanliness is greater with this type of sand. 


Concrete sand is readily available and meets particle size requirements for sand separation. This chart shows the particle range sand should fall within.

Sand Separation Systems

Mechanical Sand Separation Systems yield a high recovery of clean sand. They can be automated for 24/7 operation and reduce time spent moving and conditioning sand. Sand Separation Systems are suitable for all climates, have a relatively small footprint and require minimal fresh water, as clean sand is not dependent on lagoon water quality.

McLanahan offers a complete line of sand separation equipment to recover sand bedding from sand-laden manure, including:

With the right sand and a properly designed and managed Sand Separation System, sand recovery rates can be more than 90%. These sand separation solutions allow dairy producers to reuse their sand bedding over and over again, saving them money by recycling sand and eliminating the high cost and hassle of handling sand-laden manure.  

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