Manure Manager

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Project to analyze use of manure as dairy bedding


April 3, 2008
By Manure Manager

Funding from the New York Farm
Viability Institute and its NY Ag Innovation Center initiative is
supporting an analysis of how dairy herd health is affected by
recycling farm manure as cow bedding.

    Funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute and its NY Ag Innovation Center initiative is supporting an analysis of how dairy herd health is affected by recycling farm manure as cow bedding.

    Cornell University researchers Ellen Harrison and Jean Bonhotal lead a team that includes veterinarians, economists and nutrient specialists studying bedding practices and herd health at four New York State dairy farms already using manure in some form for bedding.

    “We will be looking at a variety of factors including pathogen levels, moisture and particle size, nutrient analysis, milk records, somatic cell counts, and the economics of recycling manure as bedding,” Bonhotal says.

    For many farms, recycling manure allows farmers to eliminate the cost—amounting to thousands of dollars annually—of buying and trucking in bedding material. Some veterinarians, however, have expressed concerns about the affect on herd health of using treated manure as bedding.

    Patterson Farms near Auburn, NY has been using separated cow manure solids as dairy bedding since 1999. In October 2005 the farm began using an anaerobic digestion manure system and is now applying digested manure solids as bedding.
“Recycling the manure as bedding has been economically and environmentally sound for us. We are often too quick to blame bedding when we see udder problems or health issues. This NY Ag Innovation Center project will quantify the effect on herd health and help us interpret the best bedding method to use,” Connie Patterson says.


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