Sand Separation Systems

McLanahan has developed a complete line of sand handling and separation equipment to tackle the tough job of processing sand-laden manure.

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Sand is often referred to as the "gold standard" for freestall bedding material, providing cows with the most comfortable resting surface. Sand also contains little or no organic material, which is important to keep bacteria levels low. Dry sand wicks moisture away from resting animals. It helps to clean hooves and provides great traction on the alleys. Sand ultimately ends up in the manure as cows move into and out of the stalls. This sand and manure mixture has low flowability and pumpability and is highly abrasive. These challenges make it difficult to manage with standard-duty processing equipment.

McLanahan has developed a complete line of sand handling and separation equipment to tackle the tough job of processing sand-laden manure. Augers have been developed to move manure from the barns to a processing facility and storage. Abrasion-resistant pumps provide pumping solutions for dilute slurries. Manure separation equipment helps producers manage their sand-free manure effluent, and sand separation equipment removes a high percentage of the sand from the manure. This recovered sand has little organic content for reuse back in the stalls. The remaining manure effluent is virtually sand-free and can be processed further or pumped to a storage location.

How Sand Separation Systems Work

Once bedding sand becomes mixed with the cow manure in the alleys, the challenge of handling that manure increases substantially. This manure mixture can no longer be pumped with traditional pumps or flow by gravity. It either has to be pushed into a tank, vacuumed from the alleys and dumped into a tank, conveyed with augers or flumed with water. The design of a Sand Separation System typically involves the complete manure system, beginning in the barns where manure is scraped from the alleys and ending in the manure storage.

The proper design of the system begins with a careful analysis of the manure conveyance system. Undiluted manure from a scraped alley, which is pushed, augered or vacuumed, is separated with a different system than manure, which is flushed or flumed down the barn. Once the proper Sand Separation System is selected for the dairy and their management needs, a conceptual layout is proposed. Once a design is agreed upon, more details are added to the design until the final drawings are produced. Complete engineered and P.E. stamped drawings are available when necessary.

The McLanahan Sales and Design team works with the dairy producer, other engineering firms, local contractors and government officials to design a system best suited for the dairy.

Why McLanahan Sand Separation Systems

McLanahan pioneered the effort of mechanical sand manure separation and continues to lead the way in providing dairy producers with economical solutions for sand recovery and reuse. They were the first to provide a commercially available mechanical separation solution. They were the first to provide sand recovery rates high enough that the sand effluent could be used in a digester system. They were also the first to provide dewatering and drying solutions to produce a sand that is dry and pathogen free.

McLanahan equipment is designed and built not only to last a long time under harsh, abrasive working environments, it is built to be easily serviced with minimal downtime. All machines use a unique combination of wear-resistant metals, rubbers and urethanes located in strategic areas so they can be easily and quickly replaced. Many parts are stocked at their warehouses and at dealers located around the world to provide the ultimate in after-sale support.

McLanahan employs a team of engineers and sales and customer service personnel whose primary focus is providing cutting-edge bedding solutions to the dairy industry. These bedding solutions allow dairy producers to minimize bedding and manure management costs in order to maximize milk production and ultimately profits.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sand Separation Systems

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Yes, we would love to sit down and discuss the ROI for a Sand Separation System on your dairy. To begin with, we would need to know the following:

  1. How much sand do you use per day, week or year?
  2. How much do you pay per yard or per ton for sand?
  3. What is your manure conveyance system?
  4. How much do you pay for electricity?
  5. How much manure would need processed? Or how many cows are in freestalls?

From this and some basic dairy information, we can come up with a preliminary design and choose the correct equipment. Once we have the equipment selected and runtimes established, we can calculate the operation and maintenance costs and estimate the ROI.

The process begins by contacting one of our dealers or contacting us directly. Click here for a list of dealers and contact information.

To answer this question, we first need to look at the manure conveyance system. If the manure is being delivered undiluted — for example, if the alleys are either scraped or vacuumed — then sand lane systems are not a viable option. If the manure is flushed from the alleys or transported with a flume system, then either option could work. 

Yes, sand bedding along with digestion works successfully at many dairies. Some dairies that have used sand for bedding and mechanical sand separation prior to putting the manure into a digester include Fair Oaks Dairy in Indiana, Central Sands Dairy in Wisconsin, Rosendale Dairy in Wisconsin, Spruce Haven Farm in New York and Green Meadow Farms in Michigan. Herd sizes at these dairies range from 1,800 cows to 14,000 cows.

Yes, many different types of sand have been used for bedding, although some kinds are better than others. If you are considering sand separation, a washed concrete or mason sand is the best option for high sand recovery and clean sand. Not sure if your sand will work for sand separation? The graph below shows a typical sand analysis for concrete sand.


Mechanical Sand Separation Systems are primarily designed for separating bedding sand from manure.

Features & Benefits
  • Reduce sand bedding costs
  • Produce a virtually endless supply of clean, dewatered bedding sand
  • Reduce the environmental footprint of the dairy
  • Reduce the amount of trucks and tankers on the roads and fields
  • Reduce soil compaction by not hauling and spreading sand
  • Equipment designed and built for sand and manure processing
  • Complete system designs
  • Stocked parts and equipment
  • Multiple different system designs are available
  • Multidisciplinary team available for 24/7 support of the system

Need Some Help?

Our customer service team is here to help you 24/7. We can ship you parts, send field service technicians to your site and answer any questions you have. Whatever you need, we are here for you.