Rosedale Farms is a dairy operation with locations in Ashland, Ohio, and Jeromesville, Ohio. Owned and operated by Paul Keener since 2012, the dairy has more than 1,500 milking cows across both farms, with room for future expansion of the herd.
Keener has always bedded his cows on sand because of the benefits to cow comfort, cow health and milk quality that sand bedding provides.
“Sand is the best bed for the cow, in my opinion,” Keener shared.
Sand is also recyclable; it can be cleaned, dried and reused in the freestalls as fresh bedding. Keener recycles his sand using a sand settling lane, which is a long concrete lane that facilitates the settling of the sand from the manure stream. The sand settles to the bottom of the lane, where it can be scooped up, placed in windrows and turned to assist with drying of the sand.
At the Jeromesville farm, Keener said they were struggling with sand quality coming out of the sand lane, as well as spending a lot of time handling the sand to get it dry enough for reuse in the freestalls.
“My goal was to be able to handle that sand better,” said Keener.
Keener was familiar with McLanahan from the company’s presence at industry trade shows and in various dairy publications.
“There’s not a whole lot of other options out on the market to make sure you have good sand, and McLanahan, that’s what they do is come up with solutions for the dairy farmer to achieve that goal,” Keener said.
He researched McLanahan’s agricultural product portfolio on the company’s website and reached out to McLanahan’s sales team for a solution.
McLanahan proposed its Sand Lane System to work in conjunction with Keener’s existing sand lane. The Sand Lane System consists of a hopper, Inclined Auger and Shaker Screen. Sand is scooped out of the sand lane and dumped into the hopper, where it is conveyed via the Inclined Aguer to the Shaker Screen. The Shaker Screen removes excess moisture from the sand, discharging a drip-free sand that is immediately stackable and requires minimal conditioning before it can be reused.
“Originally, we just pulled the sand out of the sand lanes, and then we’d flip the piles and stack it, and we’d have to touch that sand several times before it went back in,” Keener explained. “With the McLanahan Sand Lane System, it speeds that process up, and we don’t have to touch that sand as much.”
One of the major benefits of dewatering the sand through the McLanahan Sand Lane System is the reduction in labor, fuel and equipment wear that comes from the reduction in manual sand handling.
“The McLanahan Sand Lane System reduces our machine time and labor,” said Keener. “We don’t have to touch that sand several times to flip the piles. We’re pulling it out of the sand lanes, we put it through the system, and we stack it, so it’ll save fuel and time and machine wear and tear.”
Another benefit of the McLanahan Sand Lane System that Keener realized as he grew his Jeromesville location from 200 cows to 1,000 cows was that he didn’t have to add on to his sand stacking area. Because the sand coming out of the Sand Lane System doesn’t require as much conditioning before reuse, Keener didn’t have to invest in an additional storage for drying the sand.
“The McLanahan Sand Lane System made it so that we could utilize the same infrastructure that we had, and we didn’t need as much storage space for the sand,” Keener explained. “It comes off stackable, so we didn’t have to flip the piles. You still want it to sit for as long as allowable, but it definitely reduced that time.”
After the success of the McLanahan Sand Lane System at his Jeromesville farm, Keener installed another one when he built his second farm in Ashland.
“When we were designing the manure system at the Ashland farm, I knew the Sand Lane System worked, so we put in a closed-loop system, and I wanted to incorporate that in to make sure that we had good sand all the time,” said Keener.
Keener’s favorite part of the McLanahan Sand Lane System is that he can put in sand straight from the sand lane and it will discharge good quality, stackable sand.
“We can operate it year-round. It’s simple. The guys can use it, and it doesn’t take a lot of explaining. They know they put sand in, and they get clean sand out,” Keener said.
Like all dairies, Keener wants to keep somatic cell count as low as possible, and the McLanahan Sand Lane System is helping him to ensure milk quality by ensuring quality recycled sand is put back under the cows.
“The McLanahan Sand Lane System helps us achieve that by putting the best sand in the barn that we’re able to,” Keener said.